Ethiopia, Kenya to Implement LAPSSET Project, Establish Free Trade Zone
March 2, 2019 (Ezega.com - Ethiopia and Kenya have vowed to see that the Lamu Port, South Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project is fully completed as it’s a key enabler of the economic transformation of the two neighbors.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Uhuru Kenyatta said that completing the LAPSSET project is crucial to unlocking the economic potential of the Sub-Saharan region, let alone that of Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Kenya.
This was disclosed during the opening of a two-day trade and investment forum that’s gathered more than 500 investors, business leaders, and government officials from both countries. The two leaders further vowed to strengthen economic ties between their countries.
“Abiy said Ethiopia was open to Kenyan investors and urged his counterpart to ensure they strengthen trade relations between them.
“Opportunities are now wide open for Kenyan companies to invest in energy and aviation in Ethiopia,” he said.
“Ethiopia and Kenya resolved to partner in developing first-class infrastructure projects connecting our great nations and the continent. By this I have in mind the LAPSSET project which, Kenya is, for sure, still committed to,” said President Kenyatta.
“In my mind, the LAPSSET project has great promise of transforming our countries and improving the living conditions of our people,” he added.
Apart from pursuing infrastructural development, the two leaders said the continuing transformation of Moyale town should be expedited since it’s a hub for cross-border trade in the region, as indicated in the 2012 Special Status Agreement (SSA).
They also agreed to look at ways of making Moyale town a free trade zone for the benefit of both countries. But the Kenyan leader was adamant business leaders must work together to ensure there’s cooperation in matters trade and investment.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya urged the two leaders to ensure that tariff barriers are removed and favorable policies are put in place to facilitate the free movement of goods between the two nations.
“We urge our leaders that tariff barriers must be removed and policies must be put in place to facilitate the movement of goods.” He said.
The SSA offered a good foundation for discussion between the two nations today. It covers four major areas; infrastructure, Sustainable living, investment and food security that is crucial in building relations between Ethiopia and Kenya, promoting economic growth and enabling the private sector to thrive.
President Uhuru Kenyatta further extended an invitation to Ethiopia’s private investors to consider investing in his country’s ambitious big 4 agenda projects. He challenged them to come up with new opportunities for trade collaborations.
“The Big 4 Agenda on food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare offers concreted investment opportunities, and I welcome the Ethiopian private sector to partner with us,” he said.
The prime minister also extended an olive branch to Kenyan investors.
“Similarly, great potential awaits Kenyan investors to explore our agro-processing, textile and garment manufacturing throughout the country,” said Abiy.
He further said Ethiopia was ready to tap from Kenya’s expertise and experience in the tourism sector.
“Considering Kenya’s leading experience and know-how in the tourism sector, there’s so much Ethiopia can gain.” Said the premier.
He further urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to join Ethiopia in the ongoing transformation of the capital, Addis Ababa, into a modern-green city, favorable for the service industry and urban tourism.
Despite the positives from the forum, improving trade and investment between the two neighboring nations can only be improved by harmonizing policy and regulations. This will allow the private sector from both sides to freely conduct business.
That’s why the Kenyan leader came with a delegation of policymakers and regulatory officials. Abiy Ahmed is also keen on ensuring policy and regulatory framework is in place to further the milestones achieved by the two nations.