Share of Kenya’s exports to EAC falling despite trade deal

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Share of Kenya’s exports to EAC falling despite trade deal

Long-distance trucks form a queue at Sikata on the Webuye-Kanduyi-Malaba highway in Bungoma County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Exports from Kenya to East African countries have dwindled over the past decade, although Kenyan entrepreneurs were expected to boom under the regional trading bloc that came into effect in 2010.

Official data shows that the share of Kenyan exports to Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda shrank to 19.9 percent in the six months to June.

The share was 22.5 percent in the same period a decade ago, as Kenyan exports to other countries grew faster than sales to neighboring countries.

This came at a time when a common market protocol was in place and was touted to boost trade between East African Community (EAC) countries.

Experts say that in recent years Tanzania and Uganda have strengthened their industrial base and reduced their appetite for goods made in Kenya.

Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi signed the protocol in July 2010, allowing free movement of goods, services, people and capital within the bloc.

The EAC was first established in 1967 but collapsed a decade later due to political and economic disagreements between its three original partners, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The bloc’s common market is home to 177 million people, and as the region’s largest economy, Kenya was expected to benefit most from increased trade.

Although Uganda remains Kenya’s main export market in the region, frequent trade disputes over commodities such as sugar, eggs and milk have often strained trade relations.

Community membership has grown to seven countries with the recent admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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