Posted Thursday, March 1 2012 at 10:30
Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrived in Kenya Thursday as the two countries engage in major infrastructure development to boost trade.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance said the Ethiopian leader will be in Nairobi until Friday.
President Kibaki and Mr Zenawi will on Friday witness the signing of bilateral agreements between the two countries.
Thereafter a joint communiqué will be issued at State House, Nairobi.
“The consultative meetings will provide a platform for high level interactions, develop an agreed outline of areas that require intervention by both governments and possibly come up with time bound action plans for resolving existing trade barriers including mitigating trade balance between the two countries,” Kepsa chief executive Carole Kariuki, said.
Mr Zenawi is expected to deliver a key note address to Kenya-Ethiopia Business Forum.
With more than 80 million people, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked nation in the world and has the biggest economy by GDP in East Africa and Central Africa.
Kenya is Ethiopia’s second biggest trading partner in Africa after Djibouti.
Trade between Kenya and Ethiopia is further expected to rise in the coming year following the signing of a $743 million deal for the construction of the Addis Ababa-Nairobi-Mombasa road project last June.
The road is part of the Trans-African Highway Corridor that will interconnect the two East African countries with the rest of East and Southern Africa.
Kenya has been looking north to diversify its trade relations, focusing on Ethiopia and Sudan.
The road project, covering over 880 kilometres and financed through a loan from the African Development Bank, is expected to be completed in three years.
Kenya’s Economic Survey 2010 showed Nairobi’s exports to Addis Ababa stood at $43.1 million while Kenya imported goods worth $2.4 million.
According to Ethiopian Roads Authority, the road will enable the country import goods using Mombasa port at a cheaper rate than through Djibouti.
Kenyan government also has plans to develop the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor as one of the flagship projects identified in its Vision 2030 blueprint.