Pakistan, UK topple Tanzania among top buyers of Kenyan goods

The United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan have overtaken Tanzania among the top buyers of Kenya-made goods after exports to the neighbouring state dropped 31.5 per cent in the nine months to September.

Tanzanian consumers bought Ksh18.6 billion worth of Kenyan goods in the period behind the UK’s Ksh29.6 billion ($180 million) and Pakistan’s Ksh21.6 billion ($209 million), according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data.

Kenya’s exports to Tanzania stood at Ksh27.2 billion ($263 million) in the same period last year.

Exports to Tanzania have been declining on what experts attribute to a vibrant manufacturing sector in Dar and Kenyan firms opening shop in the neighbouring country.

Tanzania was once the second largest buyer of Kenyan goods but was overtaken by the US and Netherlands and has now lost more ground.

“Tanzania, like Uganda, has been developing industries locally over the years, which has resulted in cutting orders for goods previously sourced outside,” said Joseph Kosure, an international trade consultant.

Kenyan companies, like ARM Cement and Bidco, have been setting up plants in the neighbouring nation thereby reducing the flow of goods across the border.

Some of the goods that Kenya sells to Tanzania include medicines, soap, sweets and snacks (sugar confectionery) and construction materials.

Uganda increased its imports from Kenya by Sh11.5 billion ($111.3 million) to Sh47.5 billion ($460 million) in the review period, cementing its position as the largest buyer of Nairobi products.

Tanzania has in the past been accused of putting non-trade barriers on Kenyans, including delay of work permits.

Kenyan companies operating in the country have also complained of being treated harshly by unfriendly authorities and slow licensing.

Tanzania has also complained that it has been side-lined in discussions to plan joint infrastructure projects in the East African Community.

It remains to be seen the kind of relations the two neighbours will adopt following the recent change of guard in the presidency from Jakaya Kikwete to John Magufuli.