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Economy

Trade deficit narrows 4pc on reduced China imports

port of Mombasa
Cargo at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s trade deficit narrowed by four percent in the first quarter of the year to Sh283.73 billion from Sh296.56 billion over similar period a year ago.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate decline in both exports and imports over the review period, but imports dropped with a bigger margin.

This comes as the Netherlands beat Uganda and Pakistan in the ranking of top buyers of Kenyan goods over the quarter.

The European country imported Sh14.4 billion worth of Kenyan goods in the first three months of the year, against Uganda’s Sh13.2 billion and Pakistan Sh12.99 billion.

The data shows Kenya’s imports dropped to Sh421.24 billion in the first quarter, down from Sh438.49 billion over a similar period in 2018. Imports from China dropped to a three-year low, cutting the trade deficit for the first time since 2016.

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Chinese imports in the three months to March dropped to Sh77.3 billion, down from Sh88.28 billion in a similar quarter — the lowest shipment from the Asian country since 2015.

The fall was as a result of reduced food imports which fell from Sh53.59 billion to Sh43.89 billion, representing an 18 percent drop.

During the quarter, transport equipment imports fell to Sh42.14 billion from 46.91 billion in a similar period last year in a period when activities on the Chinese built SGR has scaled down. Fuel and lubricant imports also dropped by 5.6 percent, from Sh76.6 in the first quarter of 2018 to Sh72.38 billion in similar period this year.

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