Kenya ranks 107th in the largest export economy in the world and for the most complex economy, it ranks 76th. Kenya’s exports have increased from Ksh 49,089 million in October 2017 to Ksh 50,875 million in November 2017. The average of exports in Kenya ranges from Ksh 9007 million in January 1999 which is the lowest record to Ksh 59,405 million in July 2015 which is all time the highest and Ksh 50,875 as at November 2017.
In 2016, Kenya total exports went down marginally from Ksh 581.0 billion in 2015 to Ksh 578.1 billion in year 2016 while total imports declined from Ksh 1,577.6 billion to Ksh 1,431.7 billion resulting to a negative trade balance of Ksh 142.8 billion.
Regardless of the Balance of Trade (BOT) being negative and it being the largest component of the Balance of Payments (BOP), an increase in Net inflows of international trade of services, rise of Net financial inflows on account of short term capital flows and growth of earnings from services led to Kenya recording an improvement of the overall Balance of Payments (BOP) position from a deficit of Ksh 24.9 billion in 2015 to a surplus of Ksh of 13.1 billion in year 2016.
The drop in the value of total exports accounted for a 12.1% decline in the value of re-exports which was caused by a reduction in the re-exports of petroleum products as well as manufactured articles. Kenya has also experienced an improvement in of the export-import ratio from 36.8% in 20125 to 40.4% in 2016. Tea, coffee, horticulture, articles of apparel and clothing accessories are the leading export earners accounting for 56.7% of the total domestic exports as per the last quarter of 2016.
Agricultural products are key to Kenya’s export industry with tea and horticulture being the most important.
Below is the complete list of the top export items according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2017 economic survey, the top exports in Kenya as per the last quarter of 2016 are;
In 2016, Kenya exported 479,969 metric tons of tea which is an increase from 420,577 tons in year 2015. Tea remained the leading export item with its earning increasing from Ksh 123.0 billion in 2015 to Ksh 124.5 billion in 2016.
Kenya exported 501,573 tons of cut flowers in year 2016 which is an increase from 443,076 tons in the previous year. Horticulture remained the second source of export revenue with a 9.2% increase of its earnings from Ksh 100.2 billion in year 2015 to Ksh 110.3 billion in 2016.
Coffee registered an increase of its earnings from Ksh 20.6 billion in 2015 to Ksh 21.4 billion in 2016 which is an improved performance of 3.9%. Kenya exported 45,303 tons in 2016 which is an increase from 43,600 tons in the previous year.
Articles of apparel and clothing accessories
Articles of apparel and clothing accessories recorded an increase in the value of domestic exports in year 2016.
Titanium and concentrates
Kenya exported 614,609 tons of titanium and concentrates in 2016 which is an increase from 493,201 tons in year 2015. Its earnings rose from Ksh 9.13 billion to Ksh 11.0 billion in 2016 which is a 17.0% increase.
Iron & Steel
Iron and Steel recorded 11.9% increase in the value domestic exports as 139,019 tons were exported in 2016 which is an increase from 124,190 tons in year 2015. This was a recovery after a two consecutive years decline.
The volume of cement export declined for the third consecutive year with the unit of quantity exported in year 2016 being 420,157 tons which is a drastic reduction from 681,665 tons in year 2015. This decline is partly contributed by domestic absorption of cement in the current and past construction activities such as the Standard Guage Railway (SGR) project.
There was a 5.1% drop of Soda Ash domestic exports as the unit of quantity exported in year 2016 was 258,703 tons which is a decrease from 272,520 tons in the previous year.
In year 2016, Kenya exported 306,324 tons of salt which is a 0.94% improvement from 303,453 tons in year 2015.
Stones, sand and Gravel
There was a 63% rise in the stones, sand and gravel export with the unit of quantity exported in 2016 being 104,493 tons from 38,678 in the previous year.