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international - Kenya plans to focus on African exports in order to bridge the trade deficit that is currently estimated at over 1.1 trillion shillings ($11 billion), an official said on Wednesday.

Peter Biwott, CEO of Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, told journalists in Nairobi that the future of Kenya's international trade lies in Africa and especially after the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

"We will support our Kenyan industries to tap into the growing demand for manufactured goods in the continent," Biwott said during a validation forum for market and product research for Kenyan exports to Rwanda and Burundi.

The survey aims at identifying opportunities in trade for Kenya export products, market requirements, demand trends, market opportunities, strategies of entry and recommendations.

Biwott said that Kenya's strategic location provides easy access to most eastern, southern and northern African nations, noting that Africa is a key market because it is the biggest destination for the country's manufactured goods.

According to the export agency, Kenyan industries will have to enhance their competitiveness in order to achieve market access in the continent.

In August this year,    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the country concluded its first export deal of 200,000 barrels of crude oil for $12 million. 

 "We are now an oil exporter. Our first deal was concluded this afternoon with 200,000 barrels at a price of 12 million U.S. dollars," he said in a statement issued after chairing a cabinet meeting in Nairobi on Thursday. 

However, Kenyatta did not disclose details about the buyer. Energy officials said the exports are aimed at gauging the international markets' reception to Kenya's low-sulphur oil ahead of commercial production that is now estimated to start in the second half of 2023. 

XINHUA