Demand for Kenyan products has hit the lowest levels in three years as importers in other countries in East Africa opt for cheaper Chinese goods.

Figures from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) indicate that demand for Kenyan goods in the sub-region has dropped by 11 billion shillings (about 108 million US dollars) in the nine months to October.

The CBK says Kenya’s exports shrank to 119.2 billion shillings in the year to October from 130.5 billion shillings in the same period last year. Exports to the East Africa sub-region fell to 31.5 billion shillings from 44.5 billion shillings in the same period last year.

Uganda, which has traditionally been the biggest buyer of Kenyan goods recorded the biggest drop of 10.2 billion shillings.

Kenya sold goods worth 120 billion shillings to the East African Community with Uganda remaining the top export market.

For decades Kenya has been the top source of imports for East African countries because of its fledgling manufacturing sector and steady supply of critical human skills.

However, an aggressive China and India are threatening this prime position held by Kenya based on current statistics.

South Sudan, which is plagued by a civil war, recorded a drop of 1.8 billion shillings in imports from Kenya and several Kenyan companies moved out of that country or scaled back operations.

Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan also imported less Kenyan goods. Only Tanzanian and Somalia purchased more from Kenya this year.

The drop in attributed to rising exports to these countries from China and India, the sub-region’s two top trading partners. China is also the largest source of imports for Kenya with the country importing goods worth 317.4 billion shillings from China in the first 10 months of 2016, down from 330 billion in the same period last year.

India was the second largest source of imports at 215.4 billion shillings against 262 billion shillings previously.