•Beans imports however had the highest rise from Sh490.6 million in 2017-18 to Sh10.8 billion.
•Expenditure on imports is however reported to have dropped by Sh27.85 billion year-on-year to Sh871 billion in the first half of the year.
Food commodities, real estate and construction related products were the highest imported in the financial year 2018-19, latest data shows, as traders continue to embrace automated cargo clearance systems.
Latest data from the Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) shows rice was the most spent on commodity in the year under review, where traders brought in 1.6 billion kilogrammes valued at Sh218.7 billion.
This was a 23 per cent increase on volumes compared to 2017-18 when 1.3 billion kilogrammes valued at Sh119.7 billion was imported, mainly from Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand and India.
The second most spent on commodities were palm and crude oil where a total of Sh113.8 billion went into their importation, a 13 per cent increase from Sh100.9 billion spent the previous year.
This was followed by wheat and meslin which cost importers a total Sh90.3 billion up from Sh65.4 billion. Total volumes however dropped by 70 per cent to 1.7 billion kilogrammes compared to 5.9 kilos the previous year as traders gave more focus on local production.
Cement clinker, a key component in cement manufacturing was the fourth most spent on commodity as import volumes grew 23 per cent to 2.5 billion kilogrammes.
Importers spent a total Sh13.7 billion on this raw material compared to Sh12.3 billion the previous year.
Coal importers on the other hand spent Sh11.4 billion on imports making the fifth most cleared commodity under KenTrade systems.
This was however a drop compared to Sh17.1 billion spent the previous year as volumes imported dropped 24 per cent to 768.2 million kilogrammes, compared to 1.01 billion kilos imported in 2017-18, when shisha sales were still high in the country.
KenTrade has noted increased activities on its systems. The state agency under the National Treasury is implementing the National Electronic Single Window System (Kenya TradeNet System), as it pushed for enhanced cross border trade.
KenTrade CEO Amos Wangora yesterday noted the World Bank Group-IFC survey shows that the implementation of the system has resulted in streamlined import and export processes and procedures (including payment of fees), transparency in the processes and effective information sharing.
“The data on international trade in Kenya is a pointer to the scope of the efficiency that has resulted with the automation of the import and export processes,” Wangora said.
The Single Window System is basically a trade facilitation tool that enables parties involved in international trade to submit regulatory import and export related documentation to lodge their documents through a single platform, hence the name Single Window System.
The agency’s data shows beans, maize (corn) sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), printed financial papers (bank notes, stamps), printed matter (pictures) and iron or steel were other common imports cleared under its systems.
During the year, imports on printed financial papers were valued at Sh2.3 billion a drop from Sh2.7 billion the previous year.
Beans imports had the highest rise from Sh490.6 million to Sh10.8 billion worth of the produce imported last year as local production went down on unfavourable weather conditions.
Expenditure on imports is however reported to have dropped by Sh27.85 billion year-on-year to Sh 871 billion in the first half of the year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), as trade deficit reduced to Sh567.89 billion.
The drop has been recorded mainly in imported clothes and furniture among other goods.