President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday held bilateral talks with King Philippe of Belgium and Prime Minister Charles Michel where they reached agreements to scale up trade and security ties between Kenya and the Kingdom of Belgium.
The President first held talks with King Philippe at the Royal Palace of Brussels where they discussed key issues touching on bilateral trade which has increased by more than 17 percent over the last 10 years.
President Kenyatta and the King agreed that although the bilateral relations between their countries were at satisfactory levels, there was a need to improve the balance of trade which is currently in favour of Belgium.
The two leaders discussed the possibility of putting in place mechanisms to encourage the two business communities from their respective countries to increase mutually beneficial engagements.
They also discussed how to attract more Belgian investments into Kenya’s energy and infrastructure sectors.
President Kenyatta extended an official invitation to the King to visit Kenya.
The President later held another round of talks with PM Michel where they discussed ways of increasing Kenyan exports to Belgium.
They agreed that one of the fastest ways of improving the balance of trade was through value addition of Kenyan products for export to Belgium.
This is expected to open the way for manufactured goods from Kenya to enter the Belgian markets.
In order to increase investment, the two leaders will fast track agreements to remove double taxation and to protect investment.
Regional issues were part of the bilateral encounter. The processes underway in Burundi, Somalia as well as the outcome of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region held in Luanda, Angola, were discussed.
Tightening of security ties between Kenya and Belgium was also on the table.
The President also delivered condolences to both the King and the PM following the recent terror attacks in Belgium.
Besides trade and investment that has been on the rise, Kenya has been a recipient of substantial bilateral aid from Belgium.
Currently, the government of Belgium is training 70 Kenyan scientists who are pursuing post doctoral courses. Belgium had in 2014 donated a marine research vessel, MV Utafiti, valued at more than Ksh1.3 billion to Kenya.
Belgium also contributed Ksh3.5 billion towards Kenya’s development efforts between 2015 and 2016. The Government of Belgium has also been a big contributor to drought relief efforts.
Earlier in the morning, President Kenyatta held talks with officials of the European Investment Bank (EIB) with whom he discussed financing for infrastructure projects.
The bank’s financing of the construction of the Mombasa-Mariakani dual carriageway to the tune of Ksh28 billion was one part of the talks between the President and EIB officials. The agreement for the financing will be signed soon.