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Kenya’s trade deficit widens to 11.31 US billion dollars in 2017

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s merchandise trade deficit widened to 11.31 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, up from 8.53 billion dollars in 2016, official data released on Wednesday shows.

According to the 2018 Economic Survey, the expanding deficit was mainly driven by the high import bill which grew by 20.5 percent from 14.31 billion dollars in 2016 to 17.25 billion dollars in 2017.

“The main drivers of the import bill were industrial machinery; petroleum products; roads motor vehicles; iron and steel; animal and vegetable fats and oils and sugar,” said the report which was published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The report is produced on an annual basis and highlights the performance of various sectors of the economy over a five-year period, with emphasis on the performance of the latest calendar year.

According to the survey, total exports increased by 2.8 percent from 5.78 billion dollars in 2016 to 5.94 billion dollars in 2017.

Domestic exports increased from 5.065 billion dollars in 2016 to 5.3 billion dollars in 2017, representing an increase of 4.8 percent. Re-exports registered a decline of 11.2 percent to 635 million dollars in 2017.

The findings show that the major foreign exchange earners in the review period were tea; horticulture; articles of apparel and clothing accessories; coffee and titanium ores and concentrates, collectively accounting for 64.8 percent of total domestic export earnings during the period under review.

The data from KNBS indicated that Kenya’s volume of international trade in 2017 expanded by 15.4 percent to reach 23.19 billion dollar.

According to the report, Africa remained the leading destination of Kenya’s exports despite registering a decline in volume.

“The decline in total export earnings from the East African Community region partly attributed to a reduction in the value of total exports to Africa, since the region accounts for more than half of total exports to the continent,” says the survey.

Data from the statistical agency shows that the total exports to Africa accounted for 37.7 percent of total exports in 2017, down from 40.6 percent the previous year.

According to the 2018 Economic Survey, the value of exports to Africa continued on a downward trend for the second year to hit 2.23 billion dollars in 2017.

Destinations in Africa that recorded decline in earnings included Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, Zambia, Comoros and Rwanda.

KNBS said total export earnings from Asia continued to rise for the third year in a row to 1.62 billion dollars.

“The growth in total exports was largely due to increased earnings from the Far East which grew by 23.5 percent to 1.11 billion dollars in 2017,” said the agency.

Total exports to Pakistan rose from 400 million dollars in 2016 to 641 million dollars in 2017.

Similarly, the value of exports to the European Union rose by 3.6 percent to 1.25 billion dollars and constituted 21.1 percent of total exports.

The reports indicates that total export earnings from the North and South American region continued to exhibit an upward trend during the period under review.

“The sustained growth in total exports is largely attributable to growth in total exports to the United States of America which accounts for more than 80 percent of total exports to the region,” says the survey.



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