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Kenya: New PS Promises to Address Kenya's Trade BalanceWednesday, February 03, 2016 > 09:47:21
By Otiato Guguyu
Newly appointed Permanent Secretary Chris Kiptoo says he will deliver a trade policy to address the imbalance in Kenya exports against imports.
Mr Kiptoo said he will come up with a new set of rules on taxes, subsidies, import and exports in the next four months to boost Kenyan trade.
The huge difference between what the country exports to what it imports has narrowed significantly last year over the drop in oil prices.
According to the National Treasury, the current account deficit went down from 10.7 per cent in November 2014 to 7.2 per cent.
"Our current account has been huge because we have not been doing well in exports, we need to fix that," Mr Kiptoo said.
The former TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Kenya Country Director said he will also spearhead the development of an export strategy to boost Kenya's capacity to produce for the global market.
Kenya largely exports services in the financial and tourism sector which suffered last year in the wake of several attacks by the Somali militants Al Shabab.
Kenya will find itself in a tight spot having signed free trade area deals that prohibit protectionism to keep away imports and offering subsidies to boost exports.
The country has up to the first quarter of 2017 to open its markets to sugar imports from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Last year the World Trade Organisation (WTO), of which Kenya is party to, agreed to eliminate agricultural export subsidies.
Kenya which is classified as a developing country will only be allowed to use transport and marketing subsides until 2023.
Under the WTO arrangement, Kenya can only advance credit to farmers for 36 months but will have to limit the tenure of export credits to one and a half years by 2019.