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Kenya sees faster growth in imports than exports in 2014

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 > 12:02:31

(SPY Ghana)

Kenya imported goods worth 18 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, up from 15.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, while the country’s exports barely grew, data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed.exports

The imports consist mainly of industrial supplies, fuel and lubricants, machinery and transport equipment, as the country has undertaken several infrastructure projects including construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and the Lamu Port Project.

In the energy sector, top sources of imports are China, India and United Arab Emirates in Asia, Britain, Germany and France in Europe and the United Sates.

China and India are the biggest suppliers of goods to Kenya, while South Africa is its biggest source of imports in Africa.

Kenya’s imports from China last year stood at 2.8 billion dollars, up from 2 billion dollars in 2013, the data showed.

India exported goods worth 3 billion dollars to Kenya in 2014, up from 2.8 billion dollars in 2013.

Exports from Britain stood at 517 million dollars last year, down from 539 million dollars in 2013.

Of all the sources of goods, however, the U.S. beat others in terms of growth in imports to Kenya, which increased about threefold. Kenya imported goods including aircrafts worth 1.9 billion dollars from U.S. last year, up from 631 million dollars in 2013, according to KNBS.

While the East African nation’s imports rose, exports did not grow fast.

Last year, the exports mainly consisting of consumer goods stood at 6 billion dollars, a marginal increase from 5.5 billion dollars in 2013.

The slow rise in exports means Kenya’s trade imbalance has widened as compared to last year.

Top destinations of Kenya’s exports in 2014 as in the past years were Uganda, Tanzania and Britain.

“That imports are growing faster as exports remain stunted is not good for the country. This means we are straining to pay for the imports since we are not getting as much from our top foreign exchange earners like tea and coffee,” said economic lecturer Henry Wandera.

The low earnings from imports has affected negatively on Kenya’s foreign exchange reserves, making it hard for the Central Bank of Kenya to cushion the Kenyan Shilling, which is currently under pressure from major world currencies.

Kenya’s foreign exchange reserves on March 6 stood at 7.3 billion dollars or 4.7 months of import cover, a rise from 7.21 billion dollars or 4.64 months of import cover end of February.

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