•This, even as permits applied for imports fell 15.7 per cent compared to the 2018-2019 financial year.
•Export permits also fell 4.4 per cent to total 12,795.
Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Revenue Authority were the most sought state agencies by traders and importers of agricultural products in the 2019/20 financial year, official data shows.
This, even as permits applied for imports fell 15.7 per cent compared to the 2018-2019 financial year, indicating lower import trends in the year ended June 2020.
Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) data collected under its Single Window System (Kenya TradeNet System) shows permits applied through the standards body (Kebs) totaled 297,221 a drop compared to 288,192 permits the previous year.
This means standards was the most sought service by importers.
KRA was second with 151, 435 permits, which was also a drop from 278, 784 permits applied in the preceding financial year, which could translate to lower import duty on the agricultural industry imports.
Permits applied through the Kenya Radiation Protection Board were the third highest at 77, 687, followed by Port Health Services (23,981).
Among biggest seekers of radiation permits are car importers, with units remaining among the top imports through the Port of Mombasa.
The country imports about 130,000 second-hand vehicles annually mainly from Japan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Singapore and South Africa.
“Imports go up to 12,000 units a month when the economy is doing well,” Car Importers Association of Kenya national chairman, Peter Otieno, notes.
Buyers in this segment, spend an estimated Sh60 billion annually on the units whose prices range from as low as Sh500, 000 to an average Sh2.5 million.
Agricultural permits related to the radiation board include tractors, ploughing machine products among other mechanical farm inputs.
Other most sought services are from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, Directorate of Veterinary Services, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate, Kenya Dairy Board, AFA Sugar Directorate, State Department for Fisheries, Coffee board, Pest Control Products Board and Veterinary Medicine Directorate.
The 5.7 per cent drop in import permits for products in agriculture, which accounts for about 25 per cent of the annual GDP directly, is not a surprise as Kenya’s imports fell by Sh140billion in the first eight months of this year.
This is much of the second half of the 2019-20 financial year(January to June).
Latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows the total value of goods imported into the country between January and August this year was Sh669 billion, a drop compared to Sh809 billion recorded in a similar period last year.
This was occasioned mainly by the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted the global supply chains and trade with bilateral partners, mainly the leading import source market of China where the virus emanated from.
The Asian country was the top import source during the period, with Sh227 billion worth of goods brought into the country, despite being a drop compared to Sh232 billion last year.
“Non-food industrial supplies was the main import category in August 2020 with a share of 33.08 per cent,” KNBS notes in its report.
Machinery and other capital equipment, fuel and lubricants, and transport equipment constituted 18.72, 14.58 and 13.79, per cent of the total value of imports, respectively.
Foods and beverages accounted for 7.19 per cent of the total imports in August 2020.
Economic activity was markedly subdued in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019.
Real GDP contracted by 5.7 per cent in the review period compared to an expansion of 5.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2019, KNBS reported last week.
“The poor performance in the quarter was characterized by substantial contractions in accommodation and food services, education, taxes on products, and transportation and storage, which consequently occasioned the significant downturn,” KNBS second-quarter report reads.
The overall performance during the review quarter was however cushioned from a deeper slump by growths in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities (6.4%) and financial and insurance activities (4.2%).
Other sectors were construction (3.9%), health services (10.3%) public administration (5.7%), real estate activities (2.2%) and mining and quarrying activities (10.0%).