Document Type

Original Article

Subject Areas

Covid-19 and African Trade


Trade, Kenya, exports, COVID-19 pandemic


The study sought to examine the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Kenya’s international trade using monthly trade data for 2019 and 2020. The analysis shows that contrary to the global trends observed in 2020, Kenya’s merchandise exports remained resilient and registered a modest growth, largely on account of growth in traditional exports of tea and horticultural products. However, services exports, particularly travel and transport services were severely affected. Exports of apparel and, iron and steel were also negatively affected. On the other hand, Kenya benefited from the low international oil prices that prevailed for most of 2020, leading to a contraction in import bill. Further analysis indicates that while export shares to traditional markets for some specific merchandise goods declined, the reduced demand was moderated by an increase in exports to non-traditional markets, which is indicative of diversification of markets. Accordingly, the COVID-19 pandemic provides important lessons, including the need to boost Kenya’s exports through increased diversification of exports and export markets. There is need for measures aimed at re-orienting production in the apparel sector to enhance value addition and developing domestic capacity for critical supplies. A long-term export promotion strategy for the services exports is vital, given their sensitivity to shocks.

Receive Date


Accept Date


Publication Date