TRADE

Kenya's exports grow in Covid period as imports drop

Total 10-month export value hit a high of Sh532.9 billion

In Summary

•Total import value for the year to October was Sh1.341 trillion, a drop compared to Sh1.486 trillion the country spent on imports in a similar period the previous year.

•Government  is counting on the recent Economic Partnership Agreement with the UK, the existing EU agreement and the ongoing talks with the US, to help secure more market for Kenyan exports.

Cargo handling at the Port of Mombasa/FILE
Cargo handling at the Port of Mombasa/FILE

The value of Kenya's domestic exports rose 6.4 per cent in 10 months to October last year despite Covid-19 disruption on international trade.

Latest Kenya National Bureau of StatisticsLeading Economic Indicators, shows total exports (including re-exports) hit a high of Sh532.9 billion in value compared to Sh499.9 billion in a similar period the previous year.

Domestic exports ( originating from Kenya) for January to October closed at Sh464.9 billion, an increase compared to Sh437 billion worth of exports shipped out of the country in a similar period in 2019.

Imports during the period went down, improving the balance of trade deficit which stood at about Sh6.5 billion from h8 billion, even as total volumes of trade dropped.

Total import value for the year to October was Sh1.341 trillion, a drop compared to Sh1.486 trillion the country spent on imports in a similar period the previous year.

The Covid-19 pandemic which reduced global industrial output while affecting international trade patterns, including shipments, however saw volumes of trade between the country and its major trading partners fall to Sh1.874 trillion.

This is from Sh1.987 trillion recorded in a similar period in 2019.

Uganda was the leading destination for the country's domestic exports with food and beverages, industrial supplies (non-food), fuel and lubricants, machinery and transport equipment as top exports for the country.

Pakistan which takes up 38 per cent of Kenya's tea exports was the second export market despite a drop in volumes of teas exported since the onset of the pandemic in March.

Other top export destinations were Netherlands(mainly flowers), UK, US, Tanzania, Egypt, Rwanda, UAE, Germany and France.

Trade agreements open up markets and give a predictable environment to do business
Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina 

“The quantity of tea exported decreased from 44,724.70 metric tonnes in September 2020 to 43,655.91 metric tonnes in October 2020. The value of exported tea also dropped from Sh10.1 billion to Sh 9.9 billion over the same period,” KNBS notes in its data.

China continued to dominate as the top import source market for Kenya during the period, accounting for Sh293.1 billion worth of goods that came into the country, followed by India where the country purchased Sh156.8 billion worth of goods.

Other leading market sources were UAE, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Africa, US and the UK.

International trade was disrupted in March with import volumes falling between April and July, before starting to pick towards the end of the year.

Non-food industrial supplies was the main import category in October 2020 with a share of 42.08 per cent. Machinery and other capital equipment, fuel and lubricants, and transport equipment accounted for 16.61, 12.33 and 10.02, per cent of the total value of imports, respectively,” KNBS notes in its latest data.

Foods and beverages accounted for 10.21 per cent of the total imports in October 2020.

The Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development ministry is counting on the recent Economic Partnership Agreement with the UK, the existing EU  agreement and the ongoing talks with the US, to help secure more market for Kenyan exports, in a bid to cut on the huge balance of trade deficit.

“These agreements open up markets and give a predictable environment to do business,” CS Betty Maina told local manufacturers on Wednesday, during the launch of the Manufacturing Priority Agenda (MPA) 2021, by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers.

The country is also keen to grow her exports within Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Area which came into effect on January 1, this year, the CS said.