MIXED PERFORMANCE

Kenya's exports up 17% but trade deficit widens

Uganda leads as the the destination.

In Summary

•The value of domestic exports grew to Sh603.6 billion, latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows, up from Sh512.3 billion in 2020.

•Including re-exports, the total value was Sh672.6 billion compared to Sh583.7 billion buoyed by the reopening of economies and international trade.

Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal/
Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal/
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

Kenya's domestic exports grew by 17 per cent in the 11 months to November, driven by food commodities, fresh produce and manufactured goods.

The value of domestic exports grew to Sh603.6 billion, latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows, up from Sh512.3 billion in 2020.

Including re-exports, the total value was Sh672.6 billion compared to Sh583.7 billion buoyed by the reopening of economies and international trade earlier slowed down by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

However, the country's trade deficit widened to Sh1.24 trillion as the import bill jumped to Sh1.9 trillion from Sh1.4 trillion.

This was mainly as a results of high imports on industrial supplies, fuel and lubricants, machinery , transport equipment and consumer goods.

The gains in exports was seen across all key markets save for the UK which remained flat.

During the period under review, Uganda was the leading export destination as Kenya expanded its market share in the East African Community common market.

Exports to the neighbouring country were valued at Sh65.9 billion, up from Sh52.8 billion in a similar period the previous year.

The US, a key market for Kenya's apparel, was the second top export destination with the country shipping goods worth Sh53.6 billion.

This is up from Sh44.5 billion as renewed trade relations between the two countries support growth, albeit delays in the conclusion of an FTA(Free Trade Agreement) initiated during the Trump regime.

Netherlands, a top destination for Kenyan flowers, was the third top market, importing goods worth Sh52.2 billion from the East African state, up from Sh40 billion.

Other key key destination were Pakistan(mainly tea) with exports valued at Sh47.2 billion and the UK where the country exported goods worth Sh45.2 billion.

The value of cut flower exports increased to Sh101.1 billion from Sh99 billion in 2020 while vegetable exports saw Kenya make Sh26.8 billion. Fruit exports gave Kenya a total of Sh17.6 billion in the eleven months.

“Domestic exports by Broad Economic Category indicated that food and beverages was the main export category,” KNBS notes in its report.

Kenya grew its exports to Tanzania and Rwanda from Sh29.9 billion and Sh21.4 billion, to Sh Sh36.8 billion and Sh22.9 billion, respectively.

Exports to Uganda, the countries top export market, includes food and beverages, industrial supplies (non-food), fuel and lubricants, machinery and transport equipment.

While industrialisation and trade CS Betty Maina has been keen to cut the trade deficit through increased exports, the country still remain a net importer with China as the leading source.

In the year to November 2021, the value of imports from China increased to Sh398.1 billion from Sh322.4 billion the previous year," says KNBS.

Imports by broad economic category indicate that non-food industrial supplies was the main import category in November 2021 with a share of 38.58 per cent

Fuel and lubricants, machinery and other capital equipment and transport equipment accounted for 20.75, 13.78 and 8.51 per cent of the total value of imports respectively.

Food and beverages accounted for 9.69 per cent of the total imports in November 2021.

Other top import sources were India with a bill of Sh208.1 billion and UAE (Sh154.9 billion).