India ahead of China & UAE in exports to Kenya

Eleven-month data for 2012 published in the Leading Economic Indicators (December) shows the value of imports from India has increased to Sh174.6 billion, way ahead of China’s Sh154.7 billion and the UAE’s Sh138.2 billion
Kenya imported goods worth Sh19.3 billion in November alone from India as it further tightened trade relations with the Asian tiger. Imports from the UAE amounted to Sh13.2 billion, while China’s were worth Sh12.1 billion in the period, according to the KNBS data.

Fresh data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show the value of imports from India opened a clear gap ahead of the two in 2012 - the results of enhanced trade relations between Kenya and India in recent years.

The main imports from India include textiles, petroleum products obtained from bituminous minerals (other than crude), medical equipment and drugs, pharmaceuticals, flat-rolled iron and non-alloy steel products, electrical goods, food-processing machinery, special purpose motor vehicles and trucks among others.

“There are quite a number of factors why Kenya is importing more from India. For instance, you will realise that many products on sale in Kenyan retail stores – such as textiles (garments) – come from India. They are cheaper and as we know, Kenyan consumers are sensitive to price, making these a top choice,” said Tiberius Barasa, the executive director of the Centre for Policy Research, a governance and public policy analysis think-tank.

“But we are realising that it’s not just about price but also quality that is standing out for Indian imports, and this is something that can definitely be sustained in the near-term. Regional proximity of India also makes it easy to travel to and to transport goods to Kenya,” said Barasa.

The Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Sibabrata Tripathi echoes these sentiments, saying that a combination of factors does indeed make India a market of choice for Kenyan importers.

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