Trade in Kenya

African countries continue to be the major market for Kenya’s exports followed by the European Union. Exports of goods and services from Kenya in 2019 made up 12.03% of GDP while imports of goods and services in the same year were 21.37% of GDP. This clearly defines the challenge for Kenya to reduce the gap between the two to achieve a balance of payments.


Switzerland is among Kenya’s ten most important trading partners in Western Europe, while Kenya was Switzerland’s 12 th most important trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017. Kenyan exports to Switzerland include tea, coffee, horticultural products (fruits, vegetables and cut flowers), pyrethrum extract, precious and semi-precious stones. Swiss exports to Kenya consist primarily of medicines, paints, insecticides and herbicides, machinery, telephone equipment, fungicides and fertilizers.


The balance of trade between Kenya and Switzerland is in favor of Switzerland, with exports from Kenya in 2019 being KShs. 2,295,310.10 and imports from Switzerland in the same year standing at KShs. 8,023,930.20. The trade imbalance is reflected by a deficit to a tune of Kshs. -5,728,620,100.


Kenya has undertaken a comprehensive program of economic reforms designed to deregulate the economy and put it on the path of rapid employment generating growth.


Sustained efforts by the government to tighten fiscal and monetary policies since mid-1993 have been effective in stabilizing the economy and contributing to the revival of economic growth.


Stable macro-economic conditions, liberalized markets, and more operations of the strategic public enterprises are expected to enhance the level and the efficiency of private investment, and result in increased income and job creation.


The government encourages investment and the Kenyan economy remains open to foreign investors. There are no restrictions on foreign investment and repatriation of profits or capital.


Investment in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Manufacturing Under-Bond (MUB) enjoys a 10 year tax holiday followed by 25% tax rate for the next 10 years and exemption from import duties, VAT, and Sales Tax. Foreign ownership in listed Kenyan companies is generally restricted to 40% in the aggregate and 5% for each individual investor.


There is a Manufacturing – Under Bond Scheme in operation. The Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) operates in 39 Zones, (37 private, 2 public).


Visit Website of the Directorate of Commerce;


Over and above the domestic demand, Kenya’s membership of several regional bodies provides an expanded market.


Membership of the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) guarantees a market of approximately 300 million people and provides free movement of goods and services.


Trading under the Africa Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) which commenced on 1 st January 2021, has expanded this market to over 1.2 billion people. As of February 2021, 54 of the 55 African Union Member States had signed the AfCFTA treaty, while 36 countries had ratified it and deposited their instruments of ratification. Trade under the AfCFTA means a liberalized single market for goods and services facilitated by the easy movement of people and capital. It also lays the foundation for a continent-wide customs union. Ultimately, this new single market is expected to contribute to sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and, more broadly, enhanced competitiveness and industrial development.



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