Zim, Kenya in talks to strengthen ties Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou (third from right), Kenya Ambassador to Zimbabwe Stellas Munyi (second from left), Kenya’s head of delegation,Ambassador Geoprge Orina (third from left) and other delegates pose for a photo during the Zimbabwe-Kenya Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation Mid-term Review (MTR) held at Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare yesterday. - Picture: Joseph Manditswara.

Farirai Machivenyika-Senior Reporter

The inaugural mid-term review meeting of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation between Zimbabwe and Kenya began in Harare yesterday amid calls for the strengthening of relations between the two countries.

In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou said Zimbabwe and Kenya had strong people to people relations that have provided a platform for strong bi-lateral ties to thrive on.

“In March 2022, the countries laid a solid foundation for the intensification of our strategic partnership by resuscitating the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation that had been lying dormant for a regrettable 25-year                                                                                  hiatus. 

“During the 3rd Session of our JPCC, we made a commitment to hold annual inter-sessional meetings, through which we will hold ourselves to account and make sure that our focus stays strictly on target.

“With this in mind, I am happy that we are starting this review process already with one credit, for abiding by that important decision,” he said. 

An assessment of the period under review reflected a mixed picture of some isolated sectors that have made positive steps towards implementing the agreed decisions, while in the broader context, progress has generally not been as fast and extensive as expected. 

“In the economic sector, though the volumes of bilateral trade remain worryingly low, I am encouraged that we are now witnessing an evolving working relationship between our national trade facilitating agencies, Zim-Trade and the Kenya Export Promotion & Branding Agency.”

“We should build on this foundation to leap frog joint efforts towards the harmonisation of product standards so as to reduce the barriers to the smooth flow of trade. In the recent periods, we have faced some challenges in some important sectors, including the sugar industry. I am certain that, if we put our minds together during this meeting, we can come up with concrete ideas on how best we can deliver on our commitment to promote a smooth development of economic and trade relations between our two economies.

Ambassador Manzou said it was encouraging that the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) and the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) have started dialogue towards the conclusion of an instrument for bilateral cooperation that would assist in stimulating reciprocal investment between the two markets. 

“To complement that effort, let me highlight that when we meet again for the 4th Session of our JPCC next year, we will leverage our captains of industry to this effort and convene a business forum. That will allow us to identify concrete measures that we can use to strengthen our business environments and advance our priorities,” he said.

In his remarks, Ambassador George Orina the Director General, Bilateral and Political Affairs in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, the review presented an opportunity to renew and broaden their bilateral relations.

“It is of paramount importance that we continue demonstrating the viability and usefulness of the JCC mechanism in improving the existing quality of our relations. 

“We should also endeavor to find ways of addressing any issues that could impede or slow our mutually beneficial cooperation. 

“It is only by working together that we can achieve the desired outcomes for closer bilateral relations and cooperation. Indeed, we have made good strides in this regard, but I believe there is still room for improvement and growth,” Ambassador Orina said.

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