Commodities

Export earnings hit five-year high

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Avocados at the Kephis inspection centre at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. PHOTO | BONIFACE MWANGI

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Summary

  • Exports coupled with agriculture, recovery in manufacturing, exports, and services are expected to help in the rebound of the economy for the second half of the year.

Kenya’s export earnings for the 10 months to October grew the fastest in five years, indicating continued resilience of the sector against the pandemic, and its support in the rebound of the economy.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that total exports in the period grew by 6.4 per cent to Sh532.91 billion from Sh500.79 billion in the corresponding period last year.

The growth in earnings has been attributed to better performance of the traditional exports such as coffee, tea and petroleum products.

Coffee and tea receipts increased by 3.9 per cent and 17.2 per cent to Sh19.71 billion and 109.36 billion respectively over the period.

Receipts from horticultural products, however, dropped marginally by 0.2 per cent to Sh95.61 billion compared to the same period last year. They were mainly affected by flowers which were hit hard by lockdowns in some key markets, but there is optimism that the sector is picking up going into 2021.

“Respondents (flower firms) indicated that orders for flower exports over the next four months are strong, with a risk of disruptions from a tightening of Covid-19 containment measures in key markets,” CBK stated in the recent Monetary Policy Committee meeting after a survey conducted between November 10 and 12.

Earnings from fish exports also declined by 22 per cent to Sh2.2 billion.

The pandemic had led to sluggish demand for goods and services in the global markets and disruption of supply due to travel restrictions. However, easing of the measures has seen the exports pick up from July.

Due to the gradual opening of the markets, total exports in October slightly improved by 1.6 per cent or Sh782.64 million to Sh49.32 billion compared to September.

At the same time, the country’s import bill declined by 9.7 per cent to Sh1.34 trillion in the 10 month period, cutting the trade deficit by 18 per cent to Sh808.81 billion.

Exports coupled with agriculture, recovery in manufacturing, exports, and services are expected to help in the rebound of the economy for the second half of the year.

However, the resurgence in Covid-19 infections in the advanced economies and re-introduction of containment measures in some countries are feared to dampen the growth prospects.