Kenya's foreign trade grew by Sh600b in 2021

Kenya Ports Authority Gantry Cranes offloading Containers at the Container terminal’s Port of Mombasa in Mombasa County on January 22, 2022. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard].  

The volume of trade between Kenya and other countries increased by Sh600 billion in 2021 as the ease of lockdown measures, mass vaccination efforts and gradual reopening of the global economy lifted earnings across several sectors.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates the country’s overall trade volume increased from Sh2.2 trillion in 2020 to Sh2.8 trillion in 2021.

The growth was occasioned by a 31 per cent growth in imports and a 15.5 per cent increase in total exports.

"Expenditure on imports rose by 31 per cent to Sh2.1 trillion in 2021, largely on account of increased expenditure on petroleum products, iron and steel, animal fats and oils; and vehicles," explains the KNBS in the latest 2021 edition of the Economic Survey.

Total export earnings rose for the second consecutive year since the pandemic to Sh743.7 billion in 2021 led by horticulture, apparel and clothing accessories, titanium ores, and concentrates.

"The faster growth of imports compared to exports, resulted in a widening of the balance of trade deficit from Sh999 billion in 2020 to Sh1.4 trillion in 2021," explains the KNBS.

According to the KNBS, the widening balance of the trade deficit led to a deterioration of the current account balance from a deficit of Sh510 billion in 2020 to Sh663 billion in 2021.

"This was despite a Sh92.8 billion surplus in the services account and a Sh671.6 billion surplus in the secondary income account, in 2021," explained the KNBS.

Uganda remained the biggest market for Kenyan exports, with the value of goods sent to the East African neighbour in 2021 standing at Sh91 billion.

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