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Economy

Kenya exports to Africa flat despite expansion drive

Nick Nesbitt
East African Business Council chairman Nick Nesbitt. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s earnings from exports to Africa have remained flat in the first four months of the year despite renewed efforts to expand market on the continent.

The value of exports to African countries stood at Sh71.51 billion in the period, official statistics from Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) show, a marginal 0.1 percent growth over Sh71.44 billion in the first four months of 2018.

Imports from Africa, on the other hand, slid 6.97 percent to Sh69.82 billion, helping overturn a Sh3.61 billion trade deficit of in the January-April 2018 period to a Sh1.69 billion surplus this year.

Kenya has struggled to expand its exports to African countries since the turn of the decade, an analysis of official trade statistics indicates. This implies that factories in Nairobi have been losing their market share partly due to import substitution policy amid dwindling industrial competitiveness.

Export Promotion Council (EPC), the State-owned agency charged with developing and promoting exports, last year pledged to “aggressively pursue” promotional activities on the continent to grow market access for Kenyan-made goods.

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Nairobi is keen to host the secretariat for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a proposed trade bloc she has been championing, together with others, in an ambitious bid aimed at removing tariff and non-tariff barriers among African countries.

Operationalisation of AfCFTA, which has been ratified by 52 of 55 African countries, will facilitate free movement of goods, services and labour in Africa.

“The region should embark on value addition through manufacturing with the aim of harnessing opportunities provided by AfCFTA Market,” Nick Nesbitt, East African Business Council chairman said in Nairobi yesterday during private sector’s meeting on the continental free trade area.

“The Afcfta can support East African Plants to run at full capacity by expanding their markets to other African countries.” Uganda remains the largest destination for Kenyan goods in Africa with exports worth Sh20.67 billion in the first four months of the year, followed by Tanzania AND, Egypt.

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