The effects of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on the export of manufactured products from Kenya: The case of the agro-chemicals industry
Kenya and the majority of the members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are basically agricultural economies. They have come together to enhance the standard of living of the people of the region, and one of the key ways of doing this is to increase economic activity by cross-border trade. This research project looked at agriculture and trade, and specifically at chemicals needed in agriculture and their exchange across Kenya's borders with other COMESA countries. The use of agro-chemicals reflects reasonable trends of modernizing farm practice that with time may lead to increased food security in the member states. Agro-chemicals are associated with modernization in agriculture and thus higher standards of living for the peoples using them. The year 1994 was taken as the base year because under COMESA rules, trade barriers were removed during that year. Trade barriers are known to hinder cross-border trade among nations, as was the case before 1994 for Kenya with COMESA. The objective of the study was to determine the impact of the creation of COMESA on trade volumes over an eight-year period after the removal of trade barriers on Kenya products in 1994. Fungicide exports to Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan in 1996, for example, increased in volume by over 19,000% while value increased by over 1,689%. In general, the volume of trade increased sharply and tremendously the first three years after the removal of trade barriers, and there was a very sharp rise in the value of exports of agro-chemicals to COMESA between 1994 and 1996. Primary data were collected using a questionnaire to construct a profile of the exporting companies. Secondary data were analysed using descriptive statistics. The changes were presented in percentages, and absolute terms if available. In conclusion, the study found that the removal of trade barriers with the inception of COMESA has greatly increased export volumes from Kenya. Exports of agro-chemicals increased by multiples of hundreds and thousands of percentages between the base year.