President Uhuru Kenyatta will open a new chancery in the Swiss capital of Bern in bid to enhance trade between Kenya and Switzerland, Ambassador Andrew Kihurani has said.
Speaking ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s official visit to Switzerland, Ambassador Kihurani told PSCU the opening of the new chancery will invigorate the growing bilateral trade, which has been on the upward trend.
This is part of Kenya’s attempts to enhance exports following the launch of direct flights to Geneva in June 2019 and soon after, appointing the first ambassador to Switzerland.
In November 2019, a high-level trade mission from Switzerland visited Nairobi seeking opportunities in tech and understand Kenyan business envitonment.
State House said Kenya’s exports stand at Sh4.8 billion while imports from Switzerland are Sh8 billion annually.
State House press quoted the envoy as saying that despite the balance of trade being tilted in favour of Switzerland, Kenya has continued to increase its export of coffee, tea and horticultural produce.
“Another primary issue we engage in is promotion of trade. You may be aware that there’s significant bilateral trade between the two countries. Kenya is Switzerland’s 16th biggest trading partner in Africa,” Ambassador Kihurani said.
He added that bilateral trade in 2021 was extensive, with Kenya being Switzerland’s major source of cut flowers.
Imports from Switzerland to Kenya include herbicides, fungicides, chemicals, paints, machinery and pharmaceuticals.
“So our mandate is to see how to enhance that trade between the two countries. Not only in terms of the volume but also in terms of the breadth, to see what other different items we can be able to trade between the two countries,” he added.
Ambassador Kihurani further said the two nations have had significant cooperation in the tourism sector, noting that Kenya used to receive over 9,000 tourists annually from Switzerland prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He expressed hope that the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination will revive the tourism sector with Kenya receiving an increasing number of tourists from Switzerland.
“Switzerland has done about 70% of vaccination of its population and of course in Kenya, we are continuing to increase the level of vaccinations. We expect the level of tourism will start growing once again and it is the responsibility of this embassy to enhance growth of that tourism exchange,” the envoy said.
President Kenyatta will visit Geneva where he is scheduled to address the World Health Assembly on May 22.
He said the address will outline how Kenya has been at the forefront in championing health issues globally.
“The meeting in Geneva is the World Health Assembly which takes place every year. And the meeting on this particular occasion will be addressed by His Excellency the President.
“This will be his first time to address the Assembly. This is important in terms of showing the support that Kenya has for issues which will be discussed with Assembly on the issue of health,” he said.
The 75th World Health Assembly will start with a high-level segment on May 22 with speeches from the elected Health Assembly President, Heads of State, special guests and an address by the WHO Director-General as well as presentation of the Director-General’s Health Awards.
The theme of this year’s World Health Assembly is “Health for Peace, Peace for Health”.