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Kenya’s trade deficit worsens in 2017 as exports grow slower 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s total exports grew slower in 2017 as the value of imports surged on industrial supplies and machinery goods, widening the country’s trade imbalance.

Latest economic data received Tuesday indicated that the east African nation’s exports rose 3 percent last year to around 5.89 billion U.S. dollars, from 5.72 billion dollars in 2016.

On the other hand, imports accelerated 20.5 percent to stand at 17.1 billion dollars in 2017, from 14.2 billion dollars in 2016, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data showed.

Kenya’s main exports during the period are listed as food and beverages (coffee, tea, cut flowers and horticulture produce) and consumer goods, while imports were mainly industrial supplies (non-food), fuel and lubricants, and machinery.

The main destinations of exports were Pakistan, Britain, Netherlands and Uganda, while imports mainly came from China, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Kenya’s imports have been on the rise steadily since 2014 when it started major infrastructure projects that include the standard gauge railway.

Others include the Lamu Port Project at the Coast, expansion of various local and international airports, including Jomo Kenyatta, and the rehabilitation of key roads.

In the energy sector, exploration of oil and coal is taking place in Turkana and Kitui respectively. Several electricity generation projects are also ongoing. All these projects require heavy machinery.

The oil import bill had largely remained low in 2016 but was seen rising in the second half of 2017 as prices started to rise in the global market.

Pakistan emerged as the top destination of Kenyan exports in 2017, beating Uganda, which for years was at the helm.

According to a recent World Bank report, Uganda and Tanzania are losing out as top destinations of Kenya’s goods due to cheap imports in the region, mainly from Asia.

Analysts noted that Kenya’s trade imbalance would continue, especially as the country loses traditional trading partners like Uganda and Tanzania.


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