East Africa’s economic powerhouse Kenya is aiming to increase its influence in the Japanese markets, this is according to KenInvest’s Moses Ikiara.

Estimates suggest that trade between Kenya and Japan was above 1.5 billion US dollars in 2014. Experts lament trade imbalance between the two economies.

KenInvest’s managing director Moses Ikiara told CNBC Africa that the mooted direct flights between Japan and Kenya would see the volume of trade improving.

“The establishment of direct routes will also cut flying hours that can best be invested in trade,” added Ikiara.

He also called for direct trade transactions between the two countries saying this would be an advantage to Kenya’s horticulture industry.

“If we start selling directly to Japan, flowers will get there quicker and will be cost effective,” he said

“There are products Japanese markets require from us like cashew nuts, macandamia nuts, Sesame and flowers.”

Ikiara warned that Japanese market were very conscious of quality and also good diet hence Kenyan producers needed to up the standard of their produce.

“If we follow the market requirement we can produce the on demand products and close the trade imbalance gap,” he said.

Ikiara called for value addition of Kenyan products that will see job promotion within the country.

“We could add value to our products through joint venture investments which will help service the market more effectively.”

He also called for improved focus when preparing to meet potential markets.

“The time we invest in preparation for meeting potential markets is very limited but this has changing,” he said.

“We have a lot of Kenyan diaspora in Japan who are highly skilled; we need to draw from these skills when making propositions.”

He said Kenya was improving on costs of production with cost of transport, power and logistics coming down saying this would make the east African economy more competitive.