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France vows to enhance trade ties with Kenya

France vows to enhance trade ties with KenyaNairobi, July 16 - France has vowed to enhance its commercial ties with Kenya for the benefit of both nations, the French envoy to Kenya said here.

Ambassador Etienne De Poncins told Xinhua that in 2012, total trade between the two countries reached 313 million euros (about $407 million).

"Both countries have agreed to build on the momentum achieved so far, so that trade volumes reflect the cordial ties between the two countries," Poncins said during the 2013 celebrations of the French Bastille day.

This comes barely three months after a French development agency extended a $20 million credit facility to Nairobi-based Shelter Afrique in order to spur growth in the mortgage sector on the continent.

He noted that French exports to Kenya rose by 37 percent in 2012 to reach 235 million euros. "The main reason for the increase was because Kenya's electoral body purchased biometric voter kits worth 56 million euros from a French company," he said.

"In addition, another French firm also built a substation for Kenya's national electricity transmission firm for 16 million euros in 2012," he said.

According to the French embassy in Nairobi, other major French exports to Kenya include chemicals, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food products.

Poncins, who is also France's Ambassador to Somalia, said that Kenya's exports to France declined by 14 percent in 2012 to reach 77 million euros. "This is mainly attributed to the lower international prices for Kenya's key exports," he said.

"Most of Kenyan's exports to France are agricultural based commodities," he said.

He noted that most of French aid to Kenya goes to the health sector.

"In the past 12 years, France has extended over $114 million to combat HIV through multilateral agencies," he said.

The envoy noted that Kenya is a key partner in the Horn of Africa region.

"Kenya is also the regional economic hub of the eastern African region, which is one of the fastest growing areas in the world," he said.

He noted that Franco-Kenya ties have stretched for more than 40 years. In 2011, both governments signed an enhanced partnership agreement.

"The accord was aimed at providing a platform for enhancing bilateral ties on all fronts," Poncins said. (IANS)