Kenya food imports hit forex stock

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 07:00 |

Kenya has become a net importer of food with more 4.5 million tonnes of foodstuff  having crossed into the country since last year.

This situation disadvantaged the country’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves at a time the country’s exports continued to dip.

According to Trading Economics, exports from Kenya fell 2.7 per cent from a year earlier to Sh49.6 billion in August 2019, amid lower shipments of tea (-4.7 per cent); chemicals (-12.7 per cent); coffee (-5 per cent) and fish (-16.1 per cent).

Cargo automation

From statistics obtained by Business Hub from KenTrade, which supports cargo automation at the Port of Mombasa, rice was the most imported food commodity at 1.9 million tonnes followed by wheat at 1.7 million tonnes, Soya beans at 420,000, beans at 350,000 to  and maize 254,000.

Kenya also imported 587,000 tonnes of printed financial papers including bank notes, stamps and, 504,000 of printed matters such as pictures, one million of Crude Palm Oil, 254,000 of  80mm Iron Steel and 514,000 ammonium sulphate.

“The trade statistics help us understand how Kenya as an economy prioritises its spending on imports and hopefully help inform critical planning and decisions towards our development needs,” said Kentrade chief executive Amos Wangora.

Other products imported through the TradeNet System between the financial years 2018/19 and 2017 /18 included cement clinkers, ammonium sulphate as well as palm and crude oil.

This dip in exports, according to Kenya Association of Manufacturers, is because of lack of competitiveness by Kenyan factories, occasioned by levies, fees and taxes which have resulted in high cost of production.

Factories are also yet to start enjoying the 30 per cent refund on power bills due to delayed gazettement of guidelines for benefitting firms.

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