Covid cuts EAC exports to Sh28bn


Trucks pile up at Malaba border on September7. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Kenya's exports to its five partners in the East African Community (EAC) bloc fell 15.83 percent in the second quarter of the year, largely reflecting impact of travel restrictions and reduced demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earnings from goods sold to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi in the April-June 2020 period dropped to Sh28.83 billion from Sh34.25 billion a year earlier, latest data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The Sh5.42 billion contraction came at a time when Kenyan traders experienced lengthy cross-border delays because of the requirement for Covid-19 testing for truck drivers.

Exports to Tanzania fell the fastest at 24.43 percent to Sh6.33 billion in the period as Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bitterly differed over testing of truckers at the border points of Namanga, Lunga Lunga and Taveta.

The resultant lengthy delays also threatened to reignite on-and-off trade war between the two countries in mid-May before respective ministers for Transport intervened

Despite Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda reaching a deal early May for testing of truckers at the point of departure, tailbacks have continued to be witnessed at the Malaba and Busia border points into Uganda, largely over shortage of Covid-19 testing reagent.

Goods trucked to Uganda including vegetable oils, fuel, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel as well as paper and paperboard— slumped 12.68 percent to Sh12.71 billion, while Rwanda's orders declined 20.37 percent to nearly Sh4.45 billion.

KNBS said the drop in the value of goods to Uganda and Tanzania was largely because of decrease in “flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel”.

Goods exported to South Sudan were largely flat, falling a marginal 1.46 percent to Sh4.09 billion. Burundi’s orders, on the other hand, thinned 21 percent to Sh1.24 billion, according to the data.