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In a statement released by the Dutch embassy in Nairobi, dated 20 April this year, the European nation expressed its desire to maintain strong trade links with Kenya.

“Starting on 21 April and 26 April, Air France KLM Martinair will operate two weekly cargo flights bringing 45 to 50 tons of cargo from Nairobi to Amsterdam,” the statement read in part.

“For this purpose, a KLM Boeing 777-300 passenger aircraft will be used with ample belly capacity. This comes in addition to the existing full freighter flights Air France KLM Martinair is regularly operating,” it adds.

The exports will be dominated by cut flowers and other perishable products, inclusive of vegetables and fruit from Kenya to the Netherlands.

Boosting the agricultural and horticulture sector

The deal signifies a clear boost for the country’s agricultural and horticulture sector and the Kenyan economy at large as it will enable more exports.

The Netherlands has long been at the forefront of investing in Kenya and promoting increased exports from Nairobi to Amsterdam and beyond. The European nation has for the last five years in a row been ranked as the largest European market for Kenyan exports. It is also the leading destination for Kenya’s cut flowers, vegetables and fruit.

Trade statistics for the period between 2014 and 2018 indicate that Kenya’s exported goods worth Ksh216,4 billion to the Netherlands against imports worth Kshs94,7 billion. Kenya thus enjoys a favourable trade balance of Ksh121,7 billion with the European Union (EU) country.

Repatriation flight for stranded tourists

Other than the cargo flight, the Netherlands organised a repatriation flight for European and Dutch tourists stranded in the country. The flight left JKIA, Nairobi on 19 April, with 300 people on board.

“This repatriation flight was made possible due to excellent co-operation with the European Union Delegation in Kenya and the government of Kenya. The aeroplane only flew passengers out of the country and did not bring any people to Nairobi,” the statement read.

Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

The EU nation has maintained key diplomatic ties with Kenya, even in the fight against COVID-19.

“In light of corona, the Netherlands will, for instance, make Ksh11,5 billion (€100 million) available to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries. This comes on top of the Ksh575 million (€5 million) that the Netherlands made available to the World Health Organization and Ksh92 million (€800 000) to the Red Cross at the start of the crisis.

“The money is directed towards preventing the further spread of the virus, humanitarian aid and to further social and economic aid, including in Kenya. More support activities are to be undertaken,” the statement concludes.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of Kenya’s bilateral relations with the Netherlands. – Ezra Manyibe,