On the first ever official visit by a sitting Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Republic of Korea, the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul hosted Amb. Monica Juma, CBS, Dphil, on 8th October, 2018. The visit was a milestone in the sustained effort to deepen and broaden the spectrum of engagement between Kenya and Korea.
During the visit, the Cabinet Secretary held meetings with three high level government officials within the Government of Korea as follows: the Prime Minister Mr. Lee Nak-Yeon, First Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Cho Hyun and the President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency Ms. Lee Mi-kyung.
The visit by the Cabinet Secretary established a unique momentum to amplify bilateral engagement as it closely followed the visit of the Korean Prime Minister in July 2018 and an earlier tour by the former President Ms. Park Geun-hye in May, 2016 during the two high level officials from Korea held consultations with the President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.
The vibrant consultations during the visit of the Cabinet Secretary pegged bilateral relations a notch higher and enabled deliberations on means of amplifying collaboration particularly in trade and investment with emphasis on the need to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers. Emphasis was laid on fostering closer engagement with line Ministries and agencies in the agricultural sector to adapt a targeted approach in the promotion of Kenyan products to gain greater market share in Korea.
With regard to the Big Four Agenda, the Cabinet Secretary indicated the priority areas for cooperation with the Republic of Korea as follows: Food security with emphasis on increasing volume and nutritional value and development of species adaptive to the changing climatic conditions; Development of human resource for health care professionals; Exchange of experience with regard to affordable housing in order to adequately address the effects of increasing urbanization; Capacity building in the ICTs sector as it is cross cutting in all the areas of development.
The visit by the Cabinet Secretary was instrumental in mobilizing support and participation of the Republic of Korea at the high level Blue Economy Conference that took place in Nairobi on 26th-28th November, 2018. Officials from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea attended the conference as well as representatives from academia and the private sector to share the Korean experience in the successful mainstreaming and optimization of the marine resources.
The visit by the Cabinet Secretary provided fresh impetus for the Kenya Mission in Seoul to pursue its mandate to elevate relations between Kenya and Koreaa. In this regard, the Mission in conjunction with the Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands Directorate is pursuing the process of constituting a joint working group to oversee the implementation of decisions and projects as agreed during the meeting between H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Korean Prime Minister H.E. Lee Nak-yeon during his visit in July, 2018. The Mission is also anticipating the 5th Session of the Kenya/ Korea Joint Economic Commission (JEC) scheduled for 2019 that will enable greater engagement in areas of mutual cooperation including education, ICTS, health, agriculture, trade and investment as well as water and sanitation.