Kenyan exports rise by Sh100b amid bumpy economic recovery

KEITT workers packaging avocados for export. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Trade between Kenya and other countries grew by Sh102 billion in the first quarter of the year, as the gradual reopening of the global economy lifted export earnings across several sectors.

Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), however, indicates that the gains were eroded by the high cost of several commodities that pushed up Kenya’s import bill by 12 per cent.

“During the first quarter of 2022, the volume of trade was Sh802 billion compared to Sh700 billion in the first quarter of 2021, representing an increase of 14.4 per cent,” said KNBS in the trade statistics report released on Friday.

“International merchandise trade balance deteriorated from a deficit of Sh316 billion in the first quarter of 2021 to a deficit of Sh384 billion in the quarter under review.

“This unbalanced growth was occasioned by a higher increase in the value of imports than in export earnings.” 

Export earnings rose from Sh171 billion in the same quarter of 2021 to Sh183 billion as a result of the significant increase in exports of tea, coffee, iron, steel and animal and vegetable oils.

KNBS said earnings from tea exports, on the other hand, rose 10 per cent following an increase in the price of black tea in the international market from Sh133.89 per kilogramme last year to Sh290.43 per kilogramme this year. “The value of animal and vegetable oils exports more than doubled to Sh5.1 billion over the same period,” it said.

“In contrast, revenue from the export of horticultural products declined from Sh49.5 billion in the first quarter of 2021 to Sh43.5 billion in the same quarter of 2022, representing a 12.1 per cent decrease.”

The latest numbers come in the wake of rising inflation that hit a five-year high in June, attributed to various factors including the war in Ukraine war that has impacted heavily on the cost of cereal imports.

Kenya’s exports to Africa rose by 15 per cent from Sh72.1 billion in the first quarter of last year to Sh83.1 billion recorded over the same period this year.

This was largely attributed to the increased uptake of Kenyan goods in African countries led by Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia, which registered an increase of 60 per cent, 29 per cent and 62 per cent respectively. “Africa continued to be the leading export destination accounting for 39.8 per cent of the total export earnings,” said KNBS.

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