Kenya exporters protest expensive Chinese vetting


Avocados for exports. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenyan exporters have raised concerns of high demurrage charges and loss of their agricultural produce over food certification required by China, making it difficult to trade.

The Asian country on January 1 implemented new registration requirements for companies that export food to China.

According to the regulations, all overseas manufacturers of foods that export to China are required to register with the General Administration of Customs China), a move that has led to products being confiscated and spoiled.

Some of the exports affected include macadamia nuts, vegetables, fruits, tea and coffee.

“There a quite a number of goods that have been stuck at the border creating demurrage and loss to exporters. The certification is taking three months if there is an error or omission,” said Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nairobi County chairman Julius Opio.

“We want a system to make it seamless from our side in Kenya to log in and register the information.”

The exporters must list on the Registration System for Overseas Manufacturers of Imported Food and China Import Food Enterprise Registration.

The certification is becoming a major trade barrier for Kenya which is a net importer from China with a balance of trade in favour of China.

Kenya's exports to China rose by 47.9 percent in 2021 to Sh21.89 billion, however, China’s share of Kenya’s total imports was the largest growing by 22.1 percent to Sh441.36 billion.

On average between 2015 and 2019, Kenyan products account for a 0.006 percent share of China’s world imports.

The certification is also expected to be a major disruption in opened-up exports such as avocado.

Export of avocados has delayed since April 201 due to new licensing requirements.

Producers and exporters wanting to export fresh avocado to China have to ensure that all their production farms, pack houses, and fumigation facilities are registered by the government as one of the conditions to access that market.

All the fresh avocado fruits meant for export must also comply with applicable Chinese phytosanitary (plant health) laws and regulations, health and safety standards, and be free from any quarantine pests of concern to China.

Another requirement has been sent that will see Beijing conduct virtual audits of orchards and facilities before entry into the market.

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