Mukhisa Kituyi roots for regional trade

There is a great need and importance to ensure that Kenya maintains regional trade with its neighbors and within East Africa to boost its economy and relations.

According to Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary General United Nations on Conferences, Trade and Development (UNCTAD), regional trade will help boost the economy of the country.

In a public lecture at the University of Nairobi during his recent visit to Kenya, Dr. Kituyi said it is important for neighbouring countries to first do business among themselves, before reaching out to others.

“Those who do not trade with their neighbors betray them,” he said.

His sentiments come on the backdrop of frosty relations among three East African countries; Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, that has strained trade.

Between Rwanda and Uganda, there have been claims and counter claims bordering espionage, consular frustrations as well as erection of non-tariff barriers to trade.

This has seen Rwanda’s unilaterally close its busiest border crossing with Uganda at Gatuna in February. This has since disrupted trade and laid bare simmering tensions between the two East African nations. This is despite Rwanda’s claim that the closure is associated to renovations.

With, Burundi, Rwanda has also been accused of fanning dissidents keen to destabilize President Pierre Nkurruzinza’s government. This it has denied.

Closer home, Kenya has for years had an on-and-off affair with Tanzania over access to the latter’s market. This has seen a number of Kenyan goods and services being frustrated at the various border points.

In its latest report, the EAC says that intra-region trade within the bloc still stands at below 20 per cent. It is such low numbers that Kituyi says need to be boosted to see regional economies grow.

Across border in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) intra-regional trade levels stand at 46%, while in EU this is estimated at 67%.

The UNCTAD secretary-general also urged Kenyans to take advantage of globalization to compete in areas of education and information, communication and technology.