Kenya flag Kenya: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Kenya

Foreign Trade in Figures

Kenya is largely open to foreign trade, which accounts for 27% of its GDP (World bank, 2020). The country remains committed to trade liberalization through its membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC), which includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. The EAC is in the process to establish a monetary union by 2024. The EAC also finalized the negotiations for an EPA with the EU in 2014, an agreement ratified by Kenya in 2016. Kenya also ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and signed many bilateral trade agreements. The country is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States, and is one of the top five beneficiaries of the US-Africa trade initiative, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Most tariff barriers have been eliminated and customs duties are not very high. Kenya mostly exports agricultural products (tea, flowers, coffee, fruits, and vegetables), petroleum oils, titanium ores, and medicines; and mainly imports petroleum products, palm oil, medicines, cereals, vehicles, and manufactured products.

The country's main customers are Uganda, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. Its main suppliers are China (22% of total imports), India, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the United States.

Kenya imports almost three times more than it exports, which translates into a trade balance that is largely in deficit. This situation persists, due to imports related to infrastructure modernization and oil exploration. In 2020, the trade deficit amounted to USD 9.4 billion (WTO). Total goods exports reached USD 6.03 billion whereas total goods imported amounted to USD 15.44 billion. The bill of import of services amounted to USD 3.33 billion while the export of services generated around USD 3 billion. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 crisis, the external sector proved resilient. Reduced services surplus was mitigated by lower imports due to weaker domestic demand. In 2022, merchandise exports should benefit from the strong demand for fruits and vegetables while services exports should increase noticeably with the slow return of tourists (Coface).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 14,11316,68717,37817,65515,435
Exports of Goods (million USD) 5,7005,7476,0525,8396,034
Imports of Services (million USD) 3,0952,8473,6133,5953,330
Exports of Services (million USD) 3,8853,7854,6264,6482,997

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 37.737.436.133.431.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -7,691-10,187-10,200-10,683n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -6,259-8,632-8,603-8,918n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -3.48.62.5-2.0-0.6
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -2.2-6.23.9-0.2-0.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 23.424.223.021.420.2
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14.313.213.212.011.3

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 15.411.312.810.99.9
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 11.012.610.99.68.4

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Member of East African Community (EAC)

Member of African Union (AU)

Beneficiary of the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU

Beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program with the US

Beneficiary of the Generalised System of Preferences of the EU

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
Uganda 11.2%
Pakistan 8.5%
United Kingdom 7.8%
United States 7.7%
Netherlands 7.6%
See More Countries 57.2%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
China 22.0%
India 11.5%
United Arab Emirates 5.6%
Japan 5.3%
Saudi Arabia 4.2%
See More Countries 51.3%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

6.0 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Tea, whether or not flavouredTea, whether or not flavoured 20.3%
Cut flowers and flower buds of a kind suitable for...Cut flowers and flower buds of a kind suitable for bouquets or for ornamental purposes, fresh, dried, dyed, bleached, impregnated or otherwise prepared 9.5%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 6.7%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 3.6%
Titanium ores and concentratesTitanium ores and concentrates 2.6%
See More Products 57.3%
15.4 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 12.3%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined...Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 5.4%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.5%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 3.0%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.9%
See More Products 73.0%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: September 2022

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