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Coronavirus dims Kenya trade outlook

By Brian George | March 10th 2020

Mv Kilindini Ferry stops to pave way for a cargo ship leaving the port of Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango/Standard]

Most Kenyan businesses have suffered negative effects due to the coronavirus outbreak and will continue to suffer in the short term.

A survey by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) to gauge the coronavirus impact on Kenya’s economy indicates that 61 per cent of businesses had been affected by the measures being taken around the world to contain the Covid-19 virus.

The impact, however, was low to moderate for majority of the businesses and the financial loss incurred so far averages below Sh1 million.

China alone accounts for about 21 per cent of Kenya’s imports, meaning $3.66 billion (Sh366 billion) worth of products may need to be sourced elsewhere or substituted by local production due to the Covid-19 disruptions, said Kepsa.

“There is fear of massive loss of exports markets in the affected regions; that is East Asia, middle East and Europe due to the current trade and travel restrictions,” said the survey report to be officially released today.

“Exports likely to be affected the most include horticultural produce, tea and coffee, mineral ores and fruits, among other products.

“The country also faces reduced imports of crucial products including consumer and industrial products, motor vehicles, machinery, electronic equipment, appliances and accessories,” the report added.

A total of 95 businesses participated in the short survey drawn from 17 sectors of the economy.

This was in addition to 32 manufacturers who were directly surveyed by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and whose findings were integrated into the Kepsa report. 

“About 57 per cent of manufacturers have been forced to outsource inputs from other countries as a way of coping with the disruption of supply chain from China while 29 per cent have resorted to sourcing of other export market outside China, and 13 per cent have downsized their production capacity,” said the Kepsa report.

In its survey, KAM found that about 82 per cent of firms source their inputs or export to China and face direct risk of supply chain disruption.

Covid 19 Time Series


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