Britain's May Seeks to Boost Trade Ties on Africa Trip



British Prime Minister Theresa May wrapped up a three-country tour of Africa with a visit Thursday to Kenya. May’s trip is aimed at improving Britain’s economic ties to the continent before her country’s departure from the European Union next year.

Theresa May is the first British leader to set foot in Kenya, a former British colony, since Margaret Thatcher in 1988.

In Nairobi Thursday, May pledged to build stronger economic and trade ties with the East African nation.

“So as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, we are committed to a smooth transition that ensures continuity in our trading relationship with Kenya, ensuring Kenya retains duty-free, quota-free access to the UK market and to building on our strong trade investment ties to create even more opportunity for our businesses and for our consumers,” she said.

May met with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House to discuss how the two countries can work together on issues of trade and investment, as well as building stability and fighting terrorism in East Africa.

Earlier in her trip, May pledged $5.2 billion to support African economies. Kenya is hungry for that kind of foreign investment, which can provide employment and opportunities to its growing population.

The head of the Africa Policy Institute, Peter Kagwanja, said Kenya offers huge opportunities to British companies.

“I think Britain wants good relations with Kenya as a market, an expanding market. Kenya is now 50 million people, it is tapping into a larger market of about 250 million people from the Great Lakes to South Sudan to Southern Ethiopia to Northern Tanzania and so on. So it is a huge market, it is an epicenter of a huge market in Eastern Africa and Britain would like to be a competitor in that,” he said.

Gerrishon Ikiara, an international economic affairs lecturer at the University of Nairobi, said Britain and Africa need each other.

“So it is therefore to the advantage of both the UK and African countries to understand each other and see which side of the bread is buttered for us,” said Ikiara. “How can we have a win-win situation?”

May’s visit to Kenya wrapped up a three-day trip that included stops in Nigeria and South Africa.



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