Kenya’s exports of tea, flowers, coffee and fruits to Russia have been derailed in the wake of sanctions imposed on Moscow by Western nations after its invasion of Ukraine, hurting local smallholder farmers.
The blockade of the exports, estimated at nearly Sh10 billion annually, came after major container and shipping lines temporarily suspended cargo shipments to and from Russia in response to the sanctions.
Excluding Russian banks from SWIFT, the international payment system, and its central bank from international operations has made it harder for the country to pay for imports and receive cash for exports.
SWIFT [Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication] is a secure messaging system that facilitates rapid cross-border payments and its instructions are typically honoured without question, making international trade flow smoothly.
The exclusion of Russian banks from SWIFT will make it riskier and more expensive for Kenyan exporters, halting exports like spices, nuts and vegetables to Russia.
Russia’s assault on its neighbour is the biggest state-to-state invasion in Europe since World War Two, prompting suctions from the US, Britain and EU.