Thursday, July 25, 2024

China remains Kenya’s top import destination despite Ruto’s shift to west

By Natasha Gamalie.

Even as President William Ruto continues to push for more bilateral relations with the West, Kenya continues to source its imports heavily from China and Asia.

Information from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveals that in the first quarter of this year, the January-March period, the country imported goods worth Sh126.1 billion from China, with the Far East country retaining its position as the top source for imports.

This was, however, a drop from Sh. 134.1 billion worth of goods sourced from China in the fourth quarter of last year, October to December, even as China continued to avail cheaper alternatives for household goods and other merchandise.

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India emerged as the second top source of the country’s imports, which stood at Sh. 72 billion, a slight drop from Sh. 72.4 billion for a similar period in 2017.

UAE took the third place, a major source of petroleum products, with the country spending Sh. 67 billion to import goods from the Middle East state.

Malaysia, a source of palm oil used in the cooking oil manufacturing industry, and the US closed the top five ranks with Kenya having spent Sh. 42.8 billion and Sh. 41.1 billion on imports from the two markets.


The volume of trade in the first quarter of 2024 amounted to Sh. 981.8 billion, reflecting an increase of 19.4% from the first quarter of the year 2023.

This increase was triggered by 28% and 16% increases in total exports and imports respectively.

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Other notable sources were Oman Sh. 28.1 billion, Japan Sh. 27.5 billion, South Africa Sh. 21.8 billion, Belgium Sh. 16.2 billion, and neighbouring Tanzania, where the country spent Sh. 15.5 billion on imports mainly food commodities.

Kenya and the European Union started the implementation of an Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, after a decade of negotiations.

Under the EPA, the $13.9 trillion European market has been opened up to Kenyan exports on a duty-free, quota-free basis.

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