The effect of lockdown policies on international trade: Evidence from Kenya

Parked trucks wait in a 10km queue, to cross the Kenyan-Ugandan border from the town of Busia, Kenya November 14, 2020. Picture taken November 14, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner


This study analyzes how Kenya’s import and export trade was affected by lockdown policies during the COVID-19 outbreak. Analysis is conducted using a weekly series of product-by-country data for the one-year period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Analysis using an event study design shows that the introduction of lockdown measures by trading partners led to a modest increase of exports and a comparatively larger decline of imports. The decline in imports was caused by disruption of sea cargo trade with countries that introduced lockdown measures, which more than compensated for a significant rise in air cargo imports. Difference-in-differences results within the event study framework reveal that food exports and imports increased, while the effect of the lockdown on medical goods was less clear-cut. Overall, we find that the strength of lockdown policies had an asymmetric effect between import and export trade.

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