The efforts of Sri Lanka and Kenya to increase economic activities between the two countries had received further momentum during the visit of Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Development Co-ordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Enterprise Development Namal Rajapaksa to Kenya in October, 2021.
Although, the bilateral relations have reached over 50 years of friendship and cooperation, the trade relations have not realized its true potential. With that in mind, Minister Namal Rajapaksa focused on creating a prospective new product basket to trade with Kenya. This has culminated in Sri Lanka securing the first ever export deal of coco peat from Sri Lanka to Kenya. The first consignment of coco peat destined to Kenya was symbolically flagged off by Minister Namal Rajapaksa at the Port of Colombo on 4 January, 2022. This event prognosticated Kenya as a new trade destination for Sri Lanka.
As a follow up to the visit by Minister Namal Rajapaksa, the High Commissioner approached several coco peat importers in Kenya and succeeded in arranging with a company named MayleenKenya Limited to import the first consignment of coco peat from Sri Lanka.
Kenya being the economic, financial and transport hub of East Africa, offers lucrative conditions for trade, investment, tourism and many economic activities to the world. Nevertheless, the value of Sri Lanka’s exports to Kenya displayed an inconsistent trend over the years. Sri Lanka’s export value in 2019 was US$ 24 million limiting to a few products such as knitted or crocheted fabrics, cartons, boxes, packaging materials, staple fibres etc. Minister Namal Rajapaksa observed that there was a huge potential for trade expansion between Sri Lanka and Kenya. High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Kenya Veluppillai Kananathan also participated and contributed to developing an action plan to turn a new leaf in the trade relations between the two countries.
Coco peat is used by the well-developed agricultural sector in Kenya for soil preparations. The Sri Lankan coco peat manufacturers used a unique preparation method as requested by the Kenyan users which convinced them that the Sri Lankan product is of high quality compared to what they are using currently.Kenya’s total annual import capacity of coco peat stands at 10,000MT, which guarantees a sustainable export trend of this product from Sri Lanka to Kenya.
High Commissioner Kananathan also joined Minister Namal Rajapaksa at the flagging off of the maiden shipping of coco peat export consignment to Kenya at the Port of Colombo. While in Sri Lanka, High Commissioner Kananathan met with several exporters to explore the possibilities of potential new commodities that could be exported to Kenya.