Kenya’s imports from China in the first two months of the year dropped by 36.63 percent to Ksh. 56.84 billion on the back of the coronavirus epidemic.
According to data from the Kenya Trade Network Agency, the state body that manages import systems, the value of Chinese cargo imported into the country via the port of Mombasa and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport dropped to Ksh. 101.46 billion from Ksh. 160.102 billion registered in a similar period last year. Kenya’s strategic position has made it into a regional transportation hub for land-locked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and DRC whose imports have to pass through the East African nation to reach the respective states.
Beijing’s response to the epidemic that is the corona virus was to temporarily close down all businesses which has resulted in a global disruption in supply of basic household commodities given that China is the leading global manufacturing hub. A significant percentage of goods on the shelves of retail stores in Kenya are shipped in from China and other Far East countries, and a dry -up of stocks could hit consumer hardest through increased costs.
According to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) the epidemic will affect both large and small scale businesses, greatly affecting Kenya’s economy in the process.
“We will work with the government on economic mitigation actions during this season. Some of our private sector players with a critical reliance on imports from some of the affected regions are activating other supply chains and sourcing options to mitigate imminent disruptions before global trade settles back to normality,” Kepsa chief executive Carole Kariuki said.
Imports from China account for approximately a fifth of Kenya’s annual imports. In the period between January and November 2019 amounted to Ksh. 324.90 billion which is 20 percent of the country’s total import bill which stood at Ksh. 1.6 trillion at the time.