By Sheena Forde-Craigg
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) – Forming partnerships, building bridges, and identifying challenges and opportunities are the keys to enhancing trade relations between Barbados and Kenya. This was the main view shared this morning by commerce officials from Barbados and Kenya, during the first Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (KNCCI) virtual Dialogue Series, on the theme Demystifying the Barbados and Kenya Markets.
Minister of state in foreign trade and business, Sandra Husbands, noted that as a result of increased political cooperation over the past two years, imports from Kenya had increased; however, Barbados’ exports to Kenya had decreased.
This, she said, highlighted the need for Barbados to implement new initiatives in order to ramp up Barbados’ export potential.
Minister Husbands proffered the view that people-to-people interaction is key to achieving and increasing trade between the two countries.
“It is to our benefit, therefore, that we must continue to focus on deepening our people-to-people interactions, as it is the foundation for generating all economic activity. More people-to-people interaction creates greater receptivity to the goods and products which they offer,” she stressed. “And so part of our strategy for supporting the Barbadian enterprises that wish to engage the African continent and wish to engage Kenya is for us to be pursuing and building through our mission.”
The minister of state shared that through the embassy in Kenya, headed by the High Commissioner of Barbados to the Republic of Kenya, William Alexander McDonald.
Barbados is seeking to establish linkages between communities, clubs, and associations. In addition, the island is seeking to have exchanges between schools, universities, cultural groups, and practitioners, as well as media entities.
Husbands noted that this would help to knit together the people in a bond of friendship, which would create the receptivity for trade and traded goods and services within both populations.
“As a government, we will continue to support the efforts of both parties in advancing trade in our respective jurisdictions. I want to assure you that I eagerly await the outcome of this series to further discuss what other things we need to put in place to support you in this effort to build our South-South trade through Kenya. So, let’s continue our efforts to demystify trade between our economies and let us work to create, nurture and foster sustainable economies, and let us move together as one,” she stated.
In their remarks, BCCI’s president, Anthony Branker, and KNCCI’s second vice president, Fatma El-Maawy, both expressed the desire to foster greater collaboration between the two chambers, noting this would provide mutual financial benefits to their respective members and stakeholders.
Meanwhile, a panel discussion involving High Commissioner McDonald; Invest Barbados, director of investment and marketing, Renatta Mohammed; Kenya promotion and branding agency, manager of product development, David Yamina, and Kenya Investment Authority general manager, investment promotion, Pius Rotich, spoke to the challenges and opportunities that exist and could be explored.
The consensus reached was that consistent dialogue, trade fairs, and business-to-business meetings would assist in providing opportunities for increased trade between Kenya and Barbados.