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  • Writer's pictureAnzetse Were

Report: Promoting Kenya’s exports: a country- and product-specific analysis

This report was published by the Overseas Development Institute and FSD Kenya in January 2022. The report was written by Sherillyn Raga, Dirk Willem te Velde, Max Mendez Parra with inputs from Ilham Adnan. Anzetse Were was the project initiator and research supervisor for FSD Kenya.


FSD Kenya partnered with the Overseas Development Institute’s program on Supporting Economic Transformation (SET) to research and better understand Kenya’s trade relationship with a focus on exports. Key messages from the overall trade and export analysis are as follows:

Kenya’s exports of goods and services have grown by 28% from $8.9 billion in 2010 to $11.5 billion in 2019. Nevertheless, Kenya’s exports as a percentage of GDP have been gradually falling, from 24% in 2011 to 10% in 2020. Amid Covid19 in 2020, goods exports managed to grow by 3.3% to $6 billion, buoyed by continued world demand for Kenyan tea, coffee and fruits and a quick rebound in demand for garments.

Major Kenyan products that can be supported for further exporting to meet growing trading partner demand: flowers to the EU, UK or China; clothing to the US; vegetables to the UK or EU; macadamia to the US, EU or China; and tea to the UK or China.

Barriers faced by Kenyan exporters are often product-specific and market-specific. These relate to difficulties in meeting certain standards in certain markets, the lack of trade-related infrastructure (including flights), or a lack of capabilities or productivity.

To boost exports, Kenya should continue its bilateral, regional and international trade engagements; provide technical and financing support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in value chains and firms producing the identified promising export products; support the development of market- and product-specific standards; and facilitate investment.

This research is part of the series that focuses on Kenya’s trade with the EAC, the rest of Africa, European Union, United Kingdom, United States, China and India. The analysis also focuses on the role of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) in these trade relationships and how their capabilities and opportunities for export participation can be enhanced in specific product lines with specific trading partners.

Download the full research paper and policy brief. Also available are country-specific briefs:


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