Fall in coffee and tea exports drove a five per cent decline in Kenyan trade in September even as imports reduced on lower demand.
A slump in the value of exports and imports led to a decline in trade volumes from Sh180.92 billion in August to Sh170.20 billion in September.
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Leading Economic indicators show the value of imports decreased from Sh132.80 billion in August to Sh124.14 billion in September.
Quantity of coffee exported decreased from 3.931.89 metric tonnes in August to 3,144.73 metric tonnes in September while the value dropped from Sh1.46 billion to Sh1.1 billion over the same period.
The quantity of tea exported decreased from 41,275.96 metric tonnes in August to 36,325.07 metric tonnes in September. The value of exported tea decreased from Sh9.4 billion to Sh8.4 billion over the same period.
“Domestic exports by Broad Economic Category (BEC) indicated that food and beverages were the main export category in September 2019 accounting for 43.02 per cent of exports, while non-food industrial supplies accounted for 25.37 per cent of the total exports,” said KNBS.
“Imports of non-food industrial supplies was the main import category in September 2019 with a share of 30.98 per cent. Machinery and other capital equipment; fuel and lubricants; and transport equipment constituted 15.26, 23.21 and 11.26 per cent of the total value of imports, respectively. The share of foods and beverages imports accounted for 11.89 per cent of the total imports,” the report read.
The decline in trade, especially exports has been eroding Kenya’s foreign exchange earning leaving the country to rely on debt-funded dollars and diaspora remittances.
Debt and diaspora dollars have helped boost foreign exchange reserves held at Central Bank of Kenya to Sh895.4 billion ($8.779 billion) as at November 21 which is enough to cover 5.44 months of import demand.
Diaspora dollars increased by four per cent in the first 10 months of the year as Kenyans sent home Sh237.4 billion between January and October from Sh227.8 billion in a similar period last year.
Dollars from Kenyans abroad have become an important prop to the shilling helping to cater to importer demand for the greenback.