NAIROBI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Tunisia are considering a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) in order to boost air transport links, a government official said on Thursday.
Betty Maina, principal secretary ministry of industry, trade and co-operatives, told a trade forum in Nairobi that currently there are no direct flights between the two countries and this has hampered volume of trade between the two countries.
"A Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the two countries is at an advanced stage of negotiation, providing an opportunity for ease of travel and exports between the two countries," Maina said during the first Tunisian-Kenyan economic forum.
The two-day event brought together Tunisian investors to meet their Kenyan counterparts for trade deals and formation of joint ventures.
Maina said that the trade forum presented an opportunity to develop mutually beneficial engagements on trade and investments between Kenya and Tunisia.
She said that the Kenya-Tunisia Joint Framework for Cooperation was signed in 2001, but to date, no session of the Joint Cooperation Commission (JCC) has been held.
The official added that both nations are keen to enhance their bilateral cooperation especially now that Kenya has adopted an Afro-centric approach in her foreign policy orientation.
"It is important that such a JCC session be convened in 2019 at the earliest to allow for deepening and structured engagement," she noted.
Maina said that bilateral trade between Kenya and Tunisia, has been modest.
Kenya's exports to Tunisia were 29. 3 million shillings (about 292, 750 U.S. dollars), while its imports were about 634,737 dollars in 2017, Maina said.
She added that Kenya mainly exports coffee, tobacco, leather, iron and steel bar rods to Tunisia while it imports prefabricated buildings and electrical appliances, medicaments, petroleum oil, animal feeds from the north African country.
The ministry of industry said that there exists opportunities for export of Kenyan products, especially coffee and tea to Tunisia.
"Other potential products include nuts, sisal and sisal products, cut flowers," she noted.
Tunisian Minister of Commerce Omar Behi called on its investors to take advantage of the emerging opportunities in Kenya and the East Africa Community.
Behi said his country offers a gateway to the European market and both countries needed to review their approach to cooperation and development so as to benefit the people of Kenya and Tunisia.