Kenya’s exports fall, trade with Somalia rises

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is welcomed by Foreign Minister Amina Mohammed on a March 2017 visit to Kenya.

Buyers in Somalia have helped to boost flagging Kenyan trade, lifting Somalia into third place among Kenya’s most important trade partners in Africa.

Exports to Somalia increased by 33.5 per cent in the first half of the year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, a value of KSh 10.7 billion compared to KSh 8 billion over the same period in 2016.

Somalia’s relative trade position is also being helped by a Tanzanian-Kenyan trade row, as well as declining exports to Egypt.

“Total export earnings from Africa contracted by 11.8 per cent to KSh 51.9 billion in the second quarter of 2017,” says the statistics bureau in its latest Quarterly Balance of Payments report. “This was largely attributed to 37.6, 8.7, and 38.8 per cent decline in total exports to Tanzania, Uganda and Egypt respectively, in the second quarter of 2017.”

Kenya’s export earnings had dropped in the previous quarter as well.

According to the report, “Increased competition from Chinese and Indian products could have contributed the decrease in exports to the Tanzania and Uganda markets.” However, the report noted that exports to Pakistan rose by 42% during the period, helping to offset falling exports elsewhere.

Somalia now accounts for nearly a tenth of all Kenyan exports in Africa. Outside of the continent, significant trade partners include the Netherlands, USA, the UK, the UAE, and Pakistan.

Growth in exports to Somalia comes after Mogadishu and Nairobi last year resolved a dispute that had resulted in a ban on Kenyan exports of khat, a leaf used as a mild stimulant by many Somalis.

Khat, also called miraa, accounts for up to 90 per cent of the goods that Kenya exports to Somalia annually, by some estimates. The plant is also grown in Ethiopia.


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