Nairobi: India, which has a thriving diaspora in Kenya estimated at 100,000, became the East African nation's biggest trading partner in Asia in 2012, surpassing China, a government document says.

India exported to Kenya goods worth USD 240 million, way ahead of Asia's biggest economy China, which exported goods valued at USD 148 million. The figure represents a growth of around 30 percent when compared to 2011.

These figures, according to Kenya's National Economic Survey 2013, represented 18 percent of Kenya's imports in 2012, asserting India's growing influence in the east African region.

Exports to Kenya, according to Indian High Commissioner Sibabrata Tripathi, included petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, electrical machinery, steel products, hand and machine tools, yarn, vehicles and paper.

Kenya, on the other hand, exported soda ash, coffee, leather, vegetables, synthetic fibers, wool, cereals and metal scrap to India.

While the figures seem impressive for a small economy like Kenya, with a population of 40 million, Tripathi said they represented less than one percent of India's total global exports.

"A number of factors contribute to the growing trade between India and Kenya. Relative proximity of the two countries, particularly of ports on the west coast of India, and the quality of Indian products at an affordable cost are among the major factors," the high commissioner said.

"Close attention is paid by Indian exporters to the specificities of the Kenyan market. The commonality of business language in the two countries also helps," added Tripathi. Much of the Indian diaspora has its origins in Gujarat and Punjab.

(Agencies)

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