PUBLISHED ON July 25th, 2014


Netherlands has overtaken the UK as the second top market for Kenya’s exports in the three months to March as shipments to key traditional markets dropped.

Official data shows that exports to Netherlands rose 26.9 per cent to Sh11.8 billion, narrowing the gap with Uganda which imported Kenyan goods worth Sh12.4 billion, down from Sh13.6 billion.

The increased shipments to Netherlands were linked to increased flower sales, which accounted for nearly 75 per cent of the earnings.

Its rise as a major trading partner comes days after Kenya rebuked Britain, the US, France and Australia for issuing warnings about travel to Kenya, which hurt tourism with the departure of thousands of tourists.

The first quarter generally falls within the flower industry’s high season but this year started off with good weather that caused overproduction and political stability that ensured smooth sales during Valentine Day,” said Jane Ngige, CEO of Kenya Flower Council.

The Netherlands has consistently ranked as the fifth top export market for Kenya in the last five years, trailing Uganda, the UK, Tanzania and the US.

In the first quarter of last year, it fell behind Egypt, after the North African nation edge out Tanzania to take up the third position.

Besides Uganda, exports to the UK and Tanzania also dropped in quarter one despite a two per cent rise in overall shipments to Sh134.5 billion, from Sh131.9 billion in the same period last year.

The UK, which was Kenya’s top export market unit, was overtaken by Uganda six years ago. It bought local goods worth Sh10.4 billion in the three months to March, down from Sh10.5 billion in the same quarter last year.

It mainly buys tea from Kenya, the world’s leading exporter of the beverage. Tea is also Kenya’s leading hard currency earner alongside tourism, remittances and horticulture.

Over the same period, exports to Tanzania fell Sh8.5 billion compared to Sh8.9 billion the previous quarter, placing it in the fourth position
Kenya only recorded positive export growth to Rwanda among the African counties listed in the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report.

The drop in orders from the main Africa countries including Egypt is set to turn the spotlight on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s policy of economic diplomacy.

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade officials maintain the policy targets in all parts of the world, the government has increasingly been seen as seeking closer ties with states in Africa, eastern Europe, Gulf and Asia.

But exports to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, which are the top buyers of Kenyan goods in Asian and Gulf States, also dropped.

Source: Business Daily

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