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Kenya Leads in EAC intra-trade as COVID-19 Disrupts Foreign Imports

Kenya recorded a jump in the EAC intra-trade during the third quarter of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic paved the way for intra-regional trade growth.

Kenya’s total volume shipped to East Africa was valued at Kes 165 billion in the third quarter of 2020. This was an improvement from Kes 130 billion recorded in the second quarter when the impact of COVID-19 was greatly felt on the economy.

EAC Intra-trade performance

Despite the prevailing economic constraints of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the region’s economies remained strong, with EAC intra-trade growing in May due to reduced imports from international markets.

Uganda, a key trading partner with Kenya, was the second biggest exporter in the region, with the third quarter’s volumes closing at Kes 137.4 billion, up from Kes 91.6 billion.

Tanzania’s exports to the region were valued at Kes 133 billion, recovering from a low of Kes 10.1 billion in the second quarter of 2020.

Another notable performance was from Rwanda which, managed to export goods worth Kes 55.7 billion to the region, up from Kes 32 billion in the second quarter.

Uganda was the biggest trading partner with Kenya, with exports from Kenya to Uganda, mainly palm oil and its fractions, iron or non-alloy steel, petroleum oils, and salt.

Adoption of measures to minimize disruption on the main transport corridors while still observing the COVID-19 health protocols helped boost EAC intra-trade.

Kenya’s Exports

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the value of Kenya’s domestic exports rose 6.4 % in 10 months to October last year. The total exports hit a high of Kes 532.9 billion in value compared to Kes 499.9 billion in a similar period in 2019.

Uganda was the leading destination for the country’s domestic exports with food and beverages, industrial supplies (non-food), fuel and lubricants, machinery, and transport equipment as top exports.

Pakistan, which takes up 38 % of Kenya’s tea exports, was the second export market despite a drop in teas exported volumes since the onset of the pandemic in March.

Other top export destinations were Netherlands, UK, US, Tanzania, Egypt, Rwanda, UAE, Germany, and France.

Kenya’s Imports

Imports during the period went down, improving the balance of trade deficit, which stood at about Kes 6.5 billion from Kes 8 billion, even as total volumes of trade dropped.

China continued to dominate as the top import source market for Kenya during the period, accounting for Kes 293.1 billion worth of goods, followed by India, where the country purchased Kes 156.8 billion worth of goods.

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