Kenya’s trade deficit up 31 per cent - Data
8 months ago, 2 Jan 10:17
Increased need for food and petroleum products in the country has worsened the country’s trade deficit which widened by 31.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to hit Sh306 billion. Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that Kenya’s import bill rose by 20.3 per cent to Sh450.9 billion during the review period. This is a relatively faster rate in comparison to the value of total exports which grew 2.76 per cent to Sh145 billion. A trade deficit, also known as the current account deficit, means the value of imports is greater than the value of exports. “This was mainly on account of increased imports valued on free on board basis that was driven by growth in the import bill of food and petroleum products in the third quarter of 2017,” KNBS said in its quarterly balance of payment report for third quarter 2017. Reeling in from the effects of a drought that prolonged to the first quarter of 2017, the government authorised duty-free maize imports from May 2017 under a Sh6 billion subsidy programme. The initiative which ended in December was aimed at reducing the price of a 2kg packet of maize flour. Over the same period, the state also exempted duty payable for imported milk powder and sugar to cushion consumers from spiking prices of the both commodities. KNBS data show that imports from Brazil amounted to Sh20 billion on the back of increased sugar consignment from the region. This in turn nearly tripled imports from America to Sh48 billion during the period under review. The country normally imports most of its sugar from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa region under a protection window. Kenya Sugar Board CEO however told the Star that comesa had been affected by the drought as well reducing its sugar exports to Kenya by about 25 per cent. KNBS data show that the value of imports from comesa rose by 83.64 per cent to Sh30.3 billion in the quarter under review. Net income from international trade in services increased by 22.5 per cent to a surplus of Sh44.7 billion attributed to increased travel receipts.
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