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Imports from US halved as China dominates

NEWS
By Paul Wafula | August 24th 2016
Official Government data indicates the US is losing its spot as an important origin of imports to the country, after the value of imports dropped by 56 per cent to hit Sh21 billion between January to May this year. This is down from the Sh47.8 billion reported last year.PHOTO: COURTESY

Kenyan imports from the US halved in the first five months of this year as China extended its grip on the country.

Official Government data indicates the US is losing its spot as an important origin of imports to the country, after the value of imports dropped by 56 per cent to hit Sh21 billion between January to May this year. This is down from the Sh47.8 billion reported last year.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) says in its latest monthly Leading Economic Indicators report that Kenyans imported Sh117 billion worth of goods from China in the first five months of the year. This means that on average about Sh23 billion worth of goods have been shipped into the country from the Asian giant. At this rate, Kenya could import over Sh276 billion worth of goods this year from China.

Already, Chinese firms are pushing out Kenyan and Indian firms from lucrative construction industry, doing major infrastructure projects including roads and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). The dominance of China has also upset the scales with the US given that Kenya now imports from China in one month what it imports from the US in five months.

Japanese conference

China has also warmed itself into the hearts of many Government officials in the country in what has seen it emerge as Kenya’s largest bilateral lender. Data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows Kenya owes China $3.1 billion (Sh313 billion), or 19.1 per cent of the total external debt by the end of the third quarter of the 2015/16.

India remained the second major origin of imports to Kenya, after Sh97.5billion worth of goods were brought into the country. On its part, Japan held steady in the third spot, with Sh34 billion worth of imports at a time when the country is preparing to host a major Japanese conference in Nairobi.

Kenya is hoping to cement its ties with the country at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) happening in Nairobi this weekend. President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya is the leading recipient of the Japanese aid in Sub-Saharan Africa of which cumulatively to date, is at approximately 549 billion Japanese Yen (or Sh445 billion).

The other top 10 source of imports include the United Arab Emirates (Sh26 billion), Saudi Arabia (Sh24.2 billion) and Germany (Sh19 billion).

The KNBS data also showed the quantity of coffee auctioned at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) decreased from 4,730.8 metric tonnes in May 2016 to 1,717.3 metric tonnes in June 2016 while the average auction price increased from Sh262.90 per kilogram to Sh268.44 per kilogram over the same period.

On its part, the quantity of processed tea dropped from 37,571 metric tonnes in April 2016 to 36,573 metric tonnes in May 2016. The price of the processed tea increased from Sh213.89 to Sh222.84 per kilogram over the same period.

The amount of cane deliveries decreased from 576,690 tonnes in April 2016 to 520,580 tonnes in May 2016. Average price for dry maize fell from Sh35.66 per kilogram in May 2016 to Sh33.77 per kilogram in June 2016.

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