Kenyan imports fell by Sh140billion in the first eight months of the year as the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains and trade with bilateral partners.
Data from the latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, KNBS economic figures indicate the total value of goods imported to the country between January and August this year stood at Sh669 billion, down from Sh809 billion reported over a similar period last year.
According to the figures, imports from most leading trade partners were significantly lower this year particularly between April and August when global lockdowns restricted production and demand of fast moving goods.
Imports from the United Arab Emirates, UAE, fell by more than half, from Sh110 billion reported in the first eight months of last year to Sh51 billion reported this year.
Saudia Arabia similarly reported a drastic reduction in imports to Kenya from Sh88billion last year to Sh45billion this year as demand for petroleum and petroleum products took a hit following the economic slowdown.
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China remains the largest source of imports, with Sh227 billion worth of goods sent into Kenya between January and August this year compared to Sh232 billion last year.
“Imports by broad economic activity indicate that non-food industrial supplies was the main import category in August 2020 with a share of 33.08 per cent,” explains the KNBS 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.
Kenya’s exports on the other hand recorded a five per cent increase, with exports to the top eleven countries standing at Sh239billion as at August 2020 compared to Sh226 billion recorded over a similar period last year.
Pakistan emerged the top destination for Kenyan exports with Sh37.5 billion worth of goods sent to the country in the first eight months of the year, up from Sh29 billion last year.
This is attributable to the improved performance of Kenya’s tea exports in the international market, even as both yields and prices fell marginally compared to last year.
“The quantity of produced tea decreased from 46,377 MT in June 2020 to 36,554 MT in July 2020,” explained the KNBS in its report. “The price of processed tea dropped from Sh197.62 per kilogram in June 2020 to Sh194.15 per kilogram in July 2020."
Exports to Uganda ranked second at Sh36.6 billion, a marginal increase from Sh34 billion recorded last year, while the UK emerged third at Sh33.1 billion.