In a bold move heralding a fresh era for Kenyan agricultural exports, President William Ruto has inked a deal to commence the export of Kenyan tea, coffee, avocados, and pineapples to Israel starting June 5. This groundbreaking agreement was finalized during President Ruto’s two-day visit to Israel that concluded on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Israeli Investor Roundtable Forum in Tel Aviv, President Ruto underscored the high quality of Kenyan products. “Kenya’s tea and coffee are renowned for their superior quality, often being used to enhance the flavors of teas from other nations,” he said, urging Israeli investors to seize the opportunity to procure top-tier Kenyan produce at competitive prices.
The deal could have a profound impact on the Kenyan economy. Tea exports, for instance, already a significant revenue source, rose to $1.07 billion in 2022, as per the Tea Board of Kenya. Additionally, the avocado industry, which primarily exports to China, realized earnings of Sh7 billion in the final quarter of 2022, according to the Directorate of Horticulture. The opening of the Israeli market is anticipated to substantially boost local farmers’ incomes.
The agreement is part of broader trade discussions between President Ruto and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, aimed at eliminating trade barriers and addressing imbalances. These negotiations also encompass expanding air services between the two nations to bolster tourism and commerce.
President Ruto acknowledged the trade imbalance—Kenya’s exports to Israel amount to Sh1.1 billion annually versus Sh7.5 billion imports—but he emphasized Kenya’s potential for growth. “We are under-performing, but have potential to do much more,” he noted.
Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to cooperate with Kenya on various fronts, including counter-terrorism, and emphasized the importance of their continued socio-economic partnership. The deal also includes Israeli support for Kenya’s ambitious agricultural transformation plan through modern farming technologies.
This significant development comes as Kenya launches its new Global Investment Campaign, aimed at attracting quality investment. The Ruto administration is eager to provide lucrative, low-risk opportunities for smallholder export farmers.
Promising a conducive business environment for foreign investors, President Ruto assured the implementation of protective laws and liberal policies for foreign markets. The country’s tax system, previously a deterrent for foreign investment, is under continuous review to align with Kenya’s investment promotion plan, Ruto added.
He concluded by inviting Israeli investors to explore opportunities in sectors such as housing, renewable energy, health, water and irrigation, and information and communication technology.