Pakistan has triumphed over economic turmoil to claim the top spot as Kenya’s foremost goods importer with tea accounting for 60 percent of the total value of shipped products over eight months culminating in August.

Pakistan imported goods worth Ksh48 billion in the review period, to emerge top importer of Kenya’s products, surpassing stalwart competitors such as the United States and the Netherlands..

Notably, a significant portion of Pakistan’s imports from Kenya, a substantial Ksh28 billion worth emanated from tea.

This success story unfolded amidst Pakistan’s challenging economic landscape, characterised by a dearth of foreign exchange and a struggling economy, necessitating stringent measures by the central bank to conserve its dwindling forex reserves.

Traditionally, Kenya has thrived in its exports to the United States under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), particularly in the textiles sector, while the Netherlands, with a penchant for horticultural products, predominantly flowers, has consistently ranked among Kenya’s top importers.

Nevertheless, the substantial decline in tea exports to Pakistan during this review period, to the tune of 25 million kilograms when compared to the same period the previous year, underscores the repercussions of Islamabad’s economic woes on cross-border commerce.

Kenya's Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during the tea conference in Kericho. Photo:DPPS.
Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during the tea conference in Kericho. Photo:DPPS.

Pakistan’s prominence as the preeminent buyer of Kenyan tea is indisputable, contributing to 48 percent of total tea exports between January and August. In the month of July alone, Pakistan’s demand accounted for a substantial 52 percent of all tea shipments departing from the port of Mombasa.

The review period witnessed a discernible dip in the purchase volumes of Kenya’s top two buyers, grappling with their own economic sluggishness and currency shortages, collectively shedding a substantial 40 million kilograms of goods.

Pakistan’s prior shortage of the US dollar prompted temporary suspensions of non-essential imports, including tea, aimed at conserving financial resources within the nation.

Notably, tea reemerged as an essential commodity following discussions with Pakistani authorities, highlighting its integral role in international trade.

Egypt, the second-largest buyer of Kenyan tea, also found itself grappling with a 32 percent decline in trade activity during this period, partly due to an acute shortage of foreign currency and the devaluation of the Egyptian pound.