Kenya’s exports to Uganda have declined by KES 12.46 billion in the nine months to September compared to a similar period last year, handing the US an extended reign as the new largest market for goods from Nairobi.
Fresh data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that Kenya sold goods worth KES 58.88 billion to Uganda between January and September this year, down from KES 71.34 billion in a similar period last year.
Comparatively, the US, now the largest market for Kenyan goods, bought KES 60.01 billion worth of Kenyan products between January and September this year—marking a substantial growth from KES 57.91 billion in a similar period of 2021.
Uganda lost its crown as the largest buyer of Kenyan goods in the first half of the year—pointing to the negative effects of long-drawn trade squabbles between Nairobi and Kampala.
The US tossed Kampala’s dominance as Kenya’s biggest market in the first half of this year, mainly buoyed up by the bigger sale of clothes.
Official data show that exports to the US jumped 47 per cent to KES 38.8 billion in the first half of the year, even as the sale of Kenya-made goods to Uganda dipped marginally to KES 36.2 billion in the same period from KES 36.3 billion in 2021.
Kenya enjoys substantial duty-free access to the US market through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), a preferential trade programme for sub-Saharan African countries, but it expires in September 2025.
Kenya exported KES 59.6 billion worth of goods to the US in 2021, of which more than 75 per cent entered duty-free under Agoa — chiefly apparel, macadamia nuts, coffee, tea, and titanium ores.
On the other hand, the US exported KES 84 billion worth of goods to Kenya in 2021, with aircraft, plastics, machinery, and wheat among the biggest categories. Kenya is currently pursuing a new trade deal with the US to replace Agoa.