Kenyan exhibitors optimistic Chinese import expo will boost trade

Source:Xinhua 2018-11-08

  NAIROBI, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Ecstatic Kenyan entrepreneurs, loaded with their goods and optimism, left Nairobi on Wednesday evening for China, where they will attend the China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first import-themed state-level expo in the world.

  The event, which will be held from Nov. 5 to 10 in Shanghai, is expected to attract more than 3,000 companies, including over 200 enterprises that are leading in their industries from over 130 different countries and regions.

  The Kenyan entrepreneurs have had a hectic time preparing for the expo by ensuring that they get the necessary documentation and certifications ready before leaving the country.

  "I visited the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), the livestock department, Ministry of Health and was lastly referred to the customs department where I took my products ahead of travel," said Irene Mumo, proprietor of Trueways Enterprize Ltd, a honey processor.

  Fridah Mbaya of Nyumbani Coffee, which is based in Nairobi, said she also did plenty of work to get things ready before departure.

  "I had to get my products that I will exhibit ready. I deal with coffee, these are an array of products made from the beverage," she told Xinhua in an interview ahead of her departure.

  She further prepared plenty of literacy materials that she would distribute to people at the event. The materials included explanations on how to make coffee, how to grow the crop and how it is prepared to have the best taste, among others.

  "I was also seeking the necessary documentation to enable me take my products to China. We needed several documents that included the certificate of origin from the customs offices and health certificates from Kephis, among others. Getting these documents involved moving from one office to another to ensure everything goes right," she said.

  With the tough preparations, the Kenyan entrepreneurs were optimistic of growing their businesses and getting new market in China.

  "I am looking forward to a great exhibition and I expect to not only sell my products but also promote the country. This exhibition will expose my products to a wider market especially among the Chinese, who Kenya is building a strong bilateral relationship with," said Mbaya.

  She was further hopeful that she would be able to get business partnership with traders and even individual customers from China.

  Mbaya said that China has the potential to become a major coffee consuming country and the expo will help Kenya diversify its coffee exports from the traditional markets, including Europe.

  Hosea Machuki, chief executive officer of Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), whose members are part of the exhibiting companies, said China is one of the most promising emerging markets for horticultural produce from Kenya.

  "Kephis and the National Plant Protection Organization have been having technical consultations with a view to open the Chinese market for Kenyan Produce. We hope this will be finalized on time," he said, adding with a population of over 1.3 billion, Kenya can tap into this market for all kinds of fresh produce including fruits, vegetables and herbs.

  "Once the consultations are finalized, we hope that we can start shipping directly to Beijing and other Chinese cities. Currently production area stands at about 14,000 hectares for avocado. With increased demand from the marketplace, we expect more acreage to be put under the crop. In 2017, we exported about 46,000 metric tonnes of the fruit to various destinations," he said.

  According to Machuki, stevia, a sweetener grown in Kenya, is one of the other products that have great demand in China and the association expects members will also be exporting it to the Asian nation as well soon.

  "We also expect to sell herbs like basil, rosemary, chives, tarragon, mint, parsley and thyme whose farming has been growing in Kenya," he said, adding Kenya also exports roses to China.

  Kenya earned about 1.15 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 from fresh produce exports, a rise of 11 percent from 2016, according to the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya. The East African nation is banking on China to further grow these exports.

  President Uhuru Kenyatta would lead the Kenyan delegation that comprises of exporters, trade experts and exhibitors to the expo.

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