Kenya and Israel will work together to eliminate barriers to trade between them.

President William Ruto and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there exists huge potential between the two countries.

“We must exploit these opportunities. There is a wide range of exports that deserve to reach the Israel market,” said President Ruto.

He said the absence of direct flights between Kenya and Israel is a “serious impediment” that continues to hamper trade and tourism.

President Ruto made the remarks on Tuesday when he met the Prime Minister of Israel at his office in Jerusalem. He observed that Kenya and Israel posses unique global attractions that can sustain robust growth in tourism.

“Without free movement, tourism is severely restricted.”

The President said the review of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement gives Kenya Airways and El-Al — the flag carrier of Israel — an opportunity to elevate their operations.

Ruto said it was time Kenya-Israel cooperation was enhanced due to the sub-par trade volumes.

Today, Kenyan exports to Israel are worth Sh1.1 Billion whilst imports from Israel amount to Sh7.5 Billion a year.

“We are underperforming; but we have clear potential to do much more.”

He said the imbalance is not a result of natural equilibrium in Kenya’s export performance but impositions on export producers.

On his part, Mr Netanyahu committed to continue working with Kenya in fighting terrorism, countering radicalisation and violent extremism.

“It is our focus that we remain stable and peaceful as we pursue our socio-economic friendship,” he said.

Earlier, President Ruto met his Israel counterpart Isaac Herzog at his residence in Jerusalem where they agreed to expand Kenya-Israel cooperation.

“We are broadening our friendship to efficiently produce more to feed our people and export the surplus,” argued President Ruto.

President Herzog observed that Israel’s modern farming technology will sustainably drive Kenya’s “hugely transformational plan”.

-PCS