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Trade deficit narrows by 20pc on reduced imports

trade

Kenya’s half-year trade deficit fell by 20 percent in the first half of the year compared to the corresponding period in 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG

timothy odinga

Summary

  • Trade data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that the trade deficit (the difference between imports and exports) stood at Sh459 billion, compared to Sh575 billion in the first half of last year.
  • This is the lowest deficit level since the first half of 2016 when it was Sh390 billion.

Kenya’s half-year trade deficit fell by 20 percent in the first half of the year compared to the corresponding period in 2019 on the back of a lower import bill and higher export receipts.

Trade data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that the trade deficit (the difference between imports and exports) stood at Sh459 billion, compared to Sh575 billion in the first half of last year.

This is the lowest deficit level since the first half of 2016 when it was Sh390 billion.

“Despite the impact of the pandemic, exports of goods have rebounded in the first half of the year, receipts from tea exports over the period rose by 18.4 percent with increased production,” said the Central Bank of Kenya in the monetary policy committee report released last week.

The total volume of trade in the six months dropped to Sh1.09 trillion from Sh1.18 trillion recorded over the same period last year.

This was a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen countries impose movement restrictions in a bid to contain the virus globally leading to reduced consumption levels and lower trade volumes.

In the six-month period the import bill fell by Sh102.3 billion or 11.6 percent to Sh776.5 billion from Sh878.86 billion spent on foreign goods over the same period last year.

Imports from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—which are majorly petroleum products— recorded the biggest slump in the period falling by 52 and 49 percent respectively.

Over the period Chinese goods remained dominant in Kenya’s import mix despite shrinking by nine percent from Sh173 billion to Sh157.31 billion, which accounts for 20 percent of total cash spent on imports in the six months.

Export receipts on the other hand recorded a 4.6 percent rise to Sh317 billion from Sh303 billion earned in the same period last year.