KENYA'S EXPORTS to the East African Community grew by 34 per cent last year on the back of improved commodity prices, new data shows. Exports to Uganda grew the most, from Ksh52 billion ($626 million) to Ksh76 billion ($915 million) - a 47 per cent rise. Kenyan firms are increasingly focusing on the EAC for business, attracted by friendlier trading policies in countries like Uganda, as regional integration picks up. Exports to Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi grew by 28.7 per cent, 25.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively, according to Kenya's Economic Survey 2012, released on May 29. The growth in export earnings was driven by a weak shilling and high global commodity prices. A stronger dollar also helped push up export earnings from Kenya's main international markets like Europe, where the country sells its flowers. For the better part of last year, the Kenya shilling weakened sharply hitting a historic low against the dollar of Ksh107. Kenya's export earnings grew from Ksh409.8 billion ($5 billion) in 2010 to Ksh512 billion ($6.1 billion) last year. The statistics came as Kenya said it was looking at new export markets to diversify trade. "New markets and expansion of various infrastructure projects will support growth in trade in 2012," said Kenya's Minister for Planning, Development and Vision 2030 Wycliffe Oparanya. The project will open up Ethiopia and South Sudan to Kenya, allowing businesses to trade with and reach a population of over 90 million people - equivalent of the population of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. On the other hand, imports from Burundi grew by 225 per cent - the largest margin, rising from Ksh144 million ($1.7 million) to Ksh468 million ($5.6 million). Imports from Tanzania stood at Ksh15.6 billion ($187.6 million), having grown by 48.5 per cent compared with 2010. The country remains Kenya's main source of imports within the EAC bloc. Imports from Uganda slowed down, growing by 12.11 per cent compared with 108 per cent in 2010, while imports from Rwanda dropped marginally from Ksh430 million ($5.1 million) to Ksh422 million ($5 million). Overall, the four East African community partners - Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi - accounted for about 27 per cent of Kenya's total exports. However, EAC members countries contributed a paltry 2.8 per cent of Kenya's total imports, a factor that trade experts blame on Kenya's large oil bill and the fact that EAC countries produce largely the same goods.