Kenya, Sri Lanka sign bilateral air agreement

22:26, February 18, 2011      

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Kenya and Sri Lanka on Friday signed a bilateral air agreement on direct fights between the two nations.

The agreement allows direct flights access between the two countries with a total population of an estimated 60 million people.

Kenya's Minster for Transport, Amos Kimunya said air services are a crucial link in strengthening trade, diplomatic ties and tourism between the two countries.

"Kenya and Sri Lanka negotiated and concluded the first Bilateral Air Services Agreement in March, 2008. Our airlines will therefore benefit immensely by launching services between the two countries," he said.

The minister said the agreement provides for unrestricted weekly frequencies.

"It also provides for code-share arrangements, which if utilized fully provides an enormous potential to our carriers," added Kimunya.

He noted that the agreement is expected to open up trade opportunities between the two States especially trade in rubber products, processing and packaging of tea and the textile industry for which Sri Lanka is renowned.

"The business community in Kenya is also expected to exploit the opportunities in the sodium carbonate, salt, chilies and pepper markets that are offered by Sri Lanka. These commercial activities would go along way in ensuring the relations between the two States are nurtured and enhanced," Kimunya said.

Jayantha Dissanayake, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Kenya, said his country would explore more trade and investment opportunities in Kenya.

"We will send a team to Kenya to inspect the possibility of establishing a vocational training center in the country. I have also discussed with the minister of agriculture on the possibility of starting a coconut industry in Kenya because the country has very fertile land, similar to that of Sri Lanka, especially at the Coast," he said. Trade volumes between Kenya and Sri Lanka have been on the upward trend for the past decade.

However, the partnership between the two states goes beyond trade, various Kenyan students seek training opportunities in Sri Lankan academic institutions. Kenya becomes the 60th country to enter into an air service bilateral agree with Sri Lanka. Other countries in Africa include Ethiopia and Egypt.

Source: Xinhua
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