Kenya’s Trade Gap Widens as Exports Decline, Import Bill Rises

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The trade deficit in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, widened in July as imports surged and shipments of tea, the country’s biggest export, declined.

The gap grew to 80.5 billion shillings ($948.2 million) from 58.2 billion shillings a year earlier, the Nairobi-based Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in a report on its website, the capital. Exports declined 4 percent to 42.9 billion shillings, while imports jumped 20 percent to 123.4 billion shillings.

Frost and poor weather has hit tea-producing areas in Kenya, which is the world’s largest exporter of the black variety of the leaves, causing output to drop 11 percent to 182,480 metric tons in the seven months through July.

The volume of tea exports fell to 28,054 tons in July from 33,629 tons, earning 7.8 billion shillings, compared with 9.3 million shillings previously. Coffee shipments doubled to 5,727 tons, while horticulture sales including fresh-cut flowers such as roses increased by 21 percent to 18,655 tons, the agency said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net