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December 15, 2018

Rwanda, Ethiopia edge out Kenya in UK trade

Tea grading at the KTDA Nairobi. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
Tea grading at the KTDA Nairobi. Photo/Monicah Mwangi

Kenya’s exports to United Kingdom has shrunk by $50 million (Sh5 billion) since 2009, losing the market to Rwanda and Ethiopia which have increased horticultural exports.

The Kenya-UK Trade and Investment report released yesterday by the Export Promotion Council and UK’s Department of International Development (DfID) shows the value of UK imports from Kenya fell from $550 in 2009 to $400 by 2016.

According to the report, while Kenya’s exports declined, Rwanda and Ethiopia's increased by a wider margin, which was attributed to high quality export standards by those states.

Since 2012, Kenya’s tea export to UK has dropped by 0.9 per cent while that of Rwanda grew 20.6 per cent. Kenya’s cut flower export to UK dropped by 2.3 per cent while that of Ethiopia has grown by 88.7 per cent.

Trade PS Cris Kiptoo said Kenya continues to lose key export markets to new entries and urged exporters to ensure high standards for their products especially beans, where Kenya in unable to comply with EU minimum residue limit requirements.

Kenya’s top three exports to UK are tea 61 at per cent and cut roses at 26 per cent. The country exports 49 per cent of beans to the market.

DfID’s lead researcher Dirk Willem te Velde said Kenya must seek to add value to its tea, flowers, fruits and vegetables but also diversify products if it wants to recapture the UK and tap into other markets.

‘’Kenya can develop new ‘sunrise’ products such as leather and textiles to increase high value exports to UK,’’ said Dirk.

He said the country should focus on improving international market access, investing in trade-related infrastructure and strengthening domestic policies to improve its investment climate and export performance.

The report highlights the current state of trade patterns and investment flows between the UK and Kenya, develops tools and helps identify key products and promising sectors for export from Kenya to UK.

It also proposes a range of policy measures to support these sectors in a bid to increase trade and business linkages between Kenya and the UK.

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