Kenyan exporters have protested the scarcity of a document that ensures preferential entry of goods into the European market.
Exporters said the frequent shortage of a form known as Euro 1 at the Kenya Revenue Authorities (KRA) was disrupting shipment orders.
“We don’t know the actual reason behind this but there seems to a cycle of shortages of the Euro 1 forms. The shortages come every four to six months,” Stephen Mbithi, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya said.
Insiders at KRA claimed the regular shortages of the Euro 1 forms were partly due to some traders holding on to large volumes of the document.
“Some of traders grab large volumes of the forms to avoid making many trips to KRA. This is causing a problem because what is meant to serve many players finds its way into just a few hands,” a source at the KRA head office in Nairobi claimed.
The Euro 1 is issued for goods originating from all Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and destined for the EU market. It is applied in accordance with the ACP/EU Cotonou Trade Agreement of 2000.
The goods and products are granted preferential access into European markets as long as they are wholly obtained or sufficiently processed in the country of source. The goods and produces must also meet regulatory requirement such as safety standards.
Kenya currently enjoys preferential access to the EU market thanks to an interim trade deal the five East African Community (EAC) members signed with Europe in 2007 to guarantee continued duty-free and quota-free access to the latter’s market following the expiry of the non-reciprocal trading arrangement based on a World Trade Organisation waiver granted in 2001.
The shortage of the forms in KRA offices in Nairobi has seen some exporters travel to KRA branch offices such as Nakuru to secure the few available ones.
“The Euro 1 form is critical because produce cannot enter the target market without them. Products lacking this document are destroyed or shipped back at one’s cost. Unfortunately for us getting this form from the government is quiet difficult at times,” said Kenya Flower Council chief executive Jane Ngige.
“The whole is issue is akin to trying to find your way into a foreign country without a passport.”
Exporters said some of them had resorted to using stamped invoice documents as proof or origin to help facilitate the passage of their produce.
“Some of us now use stamped original invoices to ship out orders. Getting the Euro 1 is very challenging at times and the stamped invoices provide a better option,” Joseph Ng’ang’a, an exporter said.
KRA spokesman Kennedy Onyonyi promised to respond to the concerns by traders but had not done so by the time of going to press on Monday.