Last Friday, Kenya and China signed a trade agreement that paves the way for flower exports from Kenya to China. Clement Tulezi, director of the Kenyan Flower Council (KFC) feels that the Chinese market offers great opportunities for Kenyan flowers.
Earlier last week, at IFTF, Tulezi had already expressed his hopes for a trade agreement between the two countries. The Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta was visiting China on a trade mission and Tulezi was convinced he wouldn’t return home empty-handed. “When the president comes back from China, it’ll be easier for us to export flowers to the country”, he predicted.
And Tulezi was right. The agreement signed by the two countries includes phytosanitary requirements with regards to food, plant and animal safety. The agreement paves the way for the export of a range of products, including fruit, vegetables, potatoes, flowers and meat.
Kenyan growers feel that the agreement with China comes at exactly the right time. They’ve always depended heavily on Europe. But now that the UK market is under pressure, this strong dependency is becoming risky. “We’d like to gain a foothold in China. It’s a big market and we know that we could export a lot more to China than we’re currently doing”, said Tulezi at IFTF.
The KFC director pointed out that, compared to competitors from Europe and South America, Kenya is much closer to China. However, Tulezi is aware that on top of the trade agreement, improvements with regards to airfreight between Kenya and China are needed too.
In addition to China, Tulezi also sees opportunities in the United Arab Emirates, India, Turkey, Russia, the United States and Canada. A direct flight route between Kenya and the United States was opened a short time ago. Passenger planes have already been flying the route for a short while now.
“A cargo flight will follow soon”, said Tulezi adamantly. “We’re already investing in the promotion of Kenyan flowers in the United States. At trade fairs for example, and the Kenyan Flower Council also has an agreement with the American government for the promotion of Kenyan flowers in the USA.”
Tulezi took over as director of the Kenya Flower Council from Jane Ngige at the beginning of this year. He previously worked in marketing and communication and he worked as a mediator for politicians. He feels that he’ll be able to build on that experience now that Kenya is looking for new markets and countries are becoming more dependent on bilateral agreements.