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China overtakes India as largest exporter to Kenya

By the end of the year, China’s exports into Kenya could exceed the USD 4 billion mark.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has revealed that by the end of the year, China could exceed USD 4 billion worth of exports into the country. If the Asian manufacturing giant accomplishes this feat, it would overtake India as the largest importer into Kenya.

According to the state statistician, China’s assistance on the infrastructure front has played a major role in securing a market for its goods in the African country. A large part has to do with the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway project, which will see a line from Mombasa to Kigali fully operationally by 2018.

KNBS attributed approximately 40 percent of Kenya’s total imports from China in 2016/17 to the construction material used in the project. Steel and railway equipment that were specifically shipped in for the project, were also factored into the export figures.

Meanwhile, newly re-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta, has continued to pressure China to keep the trade relationship between both countries fair. According to KNBS, in 2016, Kenya’s exports to China amounted to under USD100 million – a blip on the trade scale when compared to China’s USD 3.8 billion in exports over the same period.

Speaking to the Financial Times in May, President Kenyatta said: “As with any country, the trade deficit is an issue of concern and we will be pushing to see how we can increase opportunities for Kenyan goods to penetrate the Chinese market.”

In 2013, China revealed its Belt and Road Initiative — a development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between itself, Europe and Africa. The strategy is underscored by China’s desire to elevate its global manufacturing capacity, among other goals.

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