EXPORTS

Kenyan traders seek extra pie of Chinese market

Kenya has been a net importer from China with a trade deficit reaching $3.4 billion (Sh398.71 billion) as of 2019.

In Summary

•Kenyan trade with China has been volatile in the past five years. Imports have contracted recently while exports have grown by 9.3 per cent and 43.5 per cent.

•During the event, it was noted, that barriers faced by Kenyan exporters are often product-specific and market-specific.

Seated on the left is Director Alice Mungai, Director Jackie Aiyo, Chairman Julius Opio, Director Susan Kagunda & Director Carol Karangi. Standing on the left is Director Charles Gitau, Kilimall Michael Wu, Director Ronald Meru, Mr Gopa Kumar, Canton Chamber Chairman Xian Weijian, Mr Colm Halley, Director James Wanjohi, Director Jesse Muraya and Yasian Technology Pan Wenyong./HANDOUT
Seated on the left is Director Alice Mungai, Director Jackie Aiyo, Chairman Julius Opio, Director Susan Kagunda & Director Carol Karangi. Standing on the left is Director Charles Gitau, Kilimall Michael Wu, Director Ronald Meru, Mr Gopa Kumar, Canton Chamber Chairman Xian Weijian, Mr Colm Halley, Director James Wanjohi, Director Jesse Muraya and Yasian Technology Pan Wenyong./HANDOUT

Traders in Nairobi want China to further open its market for Kenyan goods and services to bridge the huge trade deficit.

Speaking at the second Nairobi-China Trade and Investment Forum, the traders said business is currently largely in favour of China, with Kenya's export only valued at Sh10 billion.

Kenya's is a net importer from China placing the trade deficit at $3.4 billion (Sh398.71 billion) in 2019.

"I call upon enhanced continuous engagement and collaboration between the various stakeholders as a critical tool for enhancing bilateral trade between Kenya and China," CEO of the Chamber, James Odongo said.

In the past five years imports have contracted while exports have grown by 9.3 per cent and 43.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

On average between 2015 and 2019, Kenyan products accounted for a 0.006 per cent share of China’s world imports.

The Economic Survey 2022, puts the value of imports at Sh2.151 trillion in 2021 up from Sh1.643 trillion in 2020, a 30.9 per cent growth.

While Kenya’s exports of goods and services have grown by 28 per cent from $8.9 billion (Sh1.04 trillion) in 2010 to $11.5 billion (Sh1.348 trillion) in 2019, the amount of exports as a percentage of GDP has been gradually falling, from 24 per cent in 2011 to 10 per cent in 2020.

The traders said barriers faced by Kenyan exporters are often product-specific and market-specific.

These relate to difficulties in meeting certain standards in certain markets, the lack of trade-related infrastructure (including flights), or a lack of capabilities or productivity.

For instance, since December 2021, a group of Kenya exporters have had their products confiscated after China introduced new measures that would require additional certification besides the Certificates of Origin that were presented for clearance.

The additional measures now require that exporting manufacturers must register with the General Administration of Customs China (GACC).

They said to boost exports to China, the Ministry of Trade & Enterprises Development in partnership with other relevant state actors should continue with the bilateral, regional, and international trade engagements.