Trade, coronavirus top agenda as Kenyatta meets Italian counterpart

Trade, coronavirus top agenda as Kenyatta meets Italian counterpartKenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarrela, met on Saturday in Rome and discussed bilateral trade, tourism, and the fight against coronavirus. Kenyatta, on a four-day official visit to The Vatican, paid a courtesy call on Mattarrella at his Quirinal Palace in Rome. Kenyatta was received by his host and accorded an official state reception that included a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Italian military. Earlier, the Kenyan leader had a meeting with the Pontiff on Friday. The courtesy call on Mattarrela sought to cement Kenya’s long-standing relationship with Italy as a key development partner. The two leaders discussed several subjects of mutual interest between Kenya and Italy. Top among the subjects discussed was trade and investment, tourism, and the global fight against coronavirus, according to the Presidential Strategic Unit (PSCU).

Kenya’s Ambassador to Italy, Jackline Yonga, said the visit is aimed at strengthening Kenya’s strong bilateral ties with the European nation. “We expect that the visit will give a lot of confidence to both our peoples, especially the business community,” Yonga said. The envoy noted that Italy is one of Kenya’s key European trading partners and ranks among the top export destinations for horticultural produce, leather, fish, and coffee. In 2019, the envoy said Kenya exported goods worth US$34 million to the European nation which was a decline from the 2018 figure of US$39 million. Besides trade in commodities, Yonga noted that Italy is among the top tourist and investment source markets for Kenya, adding that Italian investors are keen to continue growing their investments in Kenya. “Once the two Heads of State sit together then the business community falls in place,” said the envoy. On the fight against Covid-19, Yonga said Italy has lessons to offer Kenya, having successfully managed to slow down the spread of the virus from its peak in April and May.

The European nation was the epicenter of the deadly pandemic. ”So Kenya stands to benefit a lot from lessons learnt from their Covid situation,” the diplomat said. Italy is one of the most affected countries in the world by Covid-19, having registered over 40,000 deaths Kenya is currently fighting a second wave of the outbreak. President Kenyatta was accompanied during the courtesy call by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Raychelle Omamo, and Yonga.

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