New figures from Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics show the United States has overtaken Uganda as the largest buyer of Kenyan goods.
The numbers from Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics show that between January and June 2022, Kenya’s exports to the United States totaled 38.8 billion Kenyan shillings — the equivalent of about $321 million.
Uganda’s imports from Kenya dipped to about $300 million.
According to the report, the jump was caused mainly by increased sales of Kenyan clothing apparel to the U.S.
Economists such as Ken Gichinga say the figures are a sign of Kenya’s deepening bilateral relationship with the U.S., including increased direct flights to New York.
“Americans have a bigger purchasing power for products in Kenya,” Gichinga said. “You find that American investors will find it a very good time to be able to purchase assets and buy things in Kenya because now, the market is in their favor.”
Uganda has been the biggest buyer of Kenyan exports for over a decade. But a Kenyan publication, Business Daily, reports that Uganda’s imports from Kenya have dropped as investors set up Ugandan factories to manufacture goods previously imported from Kenya, such as edible oils and cement.
Wangari Muikia, a Kenyan economist, said the country’s strong relations with the U.S., backed by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), will likely continue to thrive as the new government of President William Ruto is keen on more American partnerships.
In his visit to the United Nations General Assembly this week, Ruto met with U.S. State Department officials and pitched for increased business between the two nations.
“The new government is signaling pushing for greater trade with the U.S., with President Ruto meeting with the U.S. trade officials this week,” Muikia said. “Most excitingly in tech, where Kenya’s Silicon Savannah is excelling now, a market like the U.S. will open up business for Kenya and the region.”
Kenya is among African nations benefiting from a U.S. shift in foreign policy as it scales up its presence on the continent. The U.S. trade office said the two countries are developing a road map of engagement in agriculture, digital trade, customs procedure and other areas.