Economy

Kenya’s trade surplus with Africa up fastest in 6 years

Moses-kuria

Trade CS Moses Kuria. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya's trade surplus with Africa has risen at the fastest pace in six years, boosting the government's renewed push for the integration of trading blocs on the continent.

The gap between exports and imports widened to Sh88.3 billion last year from Sh80.49 billion the year before, marking the highest value since 2016 when it hit Sh94.41 billion.

Provisional data by the Central Bank of Kenya shows that traders earned Sh355.43 billion from exports to African countries in 2022 against an expenditure of Sh267.13 billion.

This has come at a time President William Ruto has directed Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to take a proactive role in lobbying countries in eastern, central and southern Africa to sign and ratify a proposed tripartite agreement.

Read: Numbers behind Kenya's soaring Sh433 billion trade deficit

The proposed free trade area for members of the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and Southern African Development Community has been on the table since June 2015.

Progress in creating a market of more than 750 million people has, however, been dragged by failure to get the minimum 14 signatures to enforce the deal.

Some of the key economies yet to sign the proposed tripartite trade deal are South Africa, Tanzania, DRC and Mauritius.

“We hope to achieve the remaining signatures [by April]. Only three [countries] remain and we have a commitment for nine. With this, we will do business with South Africa the same way as we do it with Tanzania," said Dr Ruto said on February 20.

Kenya is championing the removal of trade barriers among African countries to ease the movement of goods, services and labour through the integration of regional trading blocs.

Read: Trade deficit widens on fuel, cooking oil imports surge

The country on June 8, 2018, led from the front by presenting documents ratifying the proposed Comesa-EAC-SADC tripartite free trade area, which will bring together 27 countries to the Comesa secretariat.

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