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This paper uses Kenyan trade data published up through May 2020 to provide a preliminary evaluation of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on regional trade in the East African Community (EAC). Paradoxically, given the prevailing pessimism surrounding the prospects for global trade, Kenya actually experienced a significant improvement in exports in the first quarter of the year, together with a moderation of imports, leading to a marked decline in the trade deficit. While the initial shock to Kenyan trade caused by the COVID-19 crisis initially looked dramatic in terms of the declines registered, this paper reveals that i) the shock is not so alarming when seasonality is taken into account; ii) re-exports and imports have been the primary foci of impact; and iii) domestic exports have actually performed extraordinarily well under the circumstances, with incremental growth since 2019.

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