President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have urged the business community of both countries to take advantage of the special status agreement to increase trade between them.
The two leaders said trade volume between the two sister nations is too low and that various initiatives undertaken by the governments should be a catalyst to facilitate trade.
The two leaders were addressing Kenya-Ethiopian business forum held at a Nairobi hotel Thursday afternoon.
President Kenyatta however expressed gratitude that trade between the two countries has grown steadily in the last few years rising from USD 46 million in 2008 to USD 77 million in 2015.
“Undoubtedly, our mutual efforts to facilitate trade and improve the ease of doing business in our respective countries, will see these numbers keep rising over the long-term,” said President Kenyatta.
The President urged the business community to take advantage of the friendly relations and the growing connections between the countries to leverage the commitment of the two government’s efforts in improving business environment.
“Clearly the world recognizes the opportunities that exist in our countries: that is evident through the ever increasing foreign direct investment inflows to both countries,” said the President.
President Kenyatta urged the business community of the two countries to network and identify areas of collaboration.
The two leaders said business is the engine of economic growth and thereby assured the stakeholders of their support.
“We commit to listen to you, to actively engage with you and to continue to do everything in our power to enable your success,” said President Kenyatta.
The Ethiopian leader Hailemariam said the success of the two nations in trade will be realized in partnering to realize the objectives of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) Corridor Project.
He said once complete the project will greatly improve trade partnerships between the two nations.
He said for decades now, Kenya and Ethiopia have been partnering in IGAD, curbing cross border crimes, piracy and in the initiatives to build peace and security in Africa.
He challenged business communities of the two countries to take advantage of the new policies being implemented by the two government to build strong business ties.
He said as a result of reforms undertaken by his Government the Ethiopian economy has witnessed sustainable double digit and broad based growth.
The Ethiopian leader said the special status agreement would not achieve its intended objectives without people to people contact and movement of goods and services.
The forum was also attended by senior government officials led by Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization Adan Mohamed and his Foreign Affairs counterpart Amina Mohammed.