Economy

Uganda protests Kenya delay to end milk levy

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Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina during SMEs Conference. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

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Summary

  • In a letter dated July 19, Ugandan Agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze asked Kenya and Tanzania to allow Ugandan milk into their markets, after a flawed soft diplomacy strategy.
  • Trade minister Betty Maina and her Ugandan counterpart had in April agreed to abolish the trade barriers that have led to a sour relationship between the two countries.

Uganda has protested Kenya’s delay in abolishing the seven percent levy on milk imports following recent bilateral talks meant to resolve the stalemate as Nairobi attributes the lag on the third wave of Covid-19 that has hit the country.

In a letter dated July 19, Ugandan Agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze asked Kenya and Tanzania to allow Ugandan milk into their markets, after a flawed soft diplomacy strategy.

Trade minister Betty Maina and her Ugandan counterpart had in April agreed to abolish the trade barriers that have led to a sour relationship between the two countries since late 2019.

“Despite the fact that many discussions were held between our countries on the subject, the promised actions of removal of the same were not implemented,” said the minister.

Livestock PS Harry Kimtai said they were ready to go to Uganda for a verification mission but the third wave of the Covid-19, resulted in the delays.

“We were meant to for the mission before the third wave of the pandemic struck, however, we are now in the process of visiting Uganda for the mission,” said Mr Kimtai.

Kenya has in the last one year had trade-related tensions with its landlocked neighbour, especially on milk products, which saw Nairobi confiscate hundreds of tonnes of Lato milk from Uganda in 2020.

Uganda maintains that if there are issues that need to be addressed, they can be handled through bilateral arrangements or the regional trade agreements within the East African Community instead of using arbitrary means such as high taxes.

“Ugandan government formally protested these actions by way of a protest note dated January 15,2021 and both countries are signed up to the East African Community framework,” Mr Tumwebaze wrote to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives.

In April, a joint committee was set up to solve the impasse between Kenya and Uganda for milk product trade to continue smoothly but the matter was never amicably resolved.

Uganda had agreed to invite Kenyan official to their country for verification mission on whether Kampala has the ability to produce all the milk that is exported to the country.

The Kenyan delegation was in Kampala to deliberate on the matter after Kampala raised concerns over Nairobi’s imposition of taxes on goods coming in from Uganda and banning milk and poultry products.

Ms Maina met with her Ugandan counterpart Amelia Kyambadde as well as President Yoweri Museveni and it was agreed that both countries do away with the punitive taxes.

Kenya agreed to scrap the 35 per cent duty that is imposed on gas cylinders that are manufactured in Uganda and no deal was reached on milk.

On the other hand, Uganda has agreed to scrap the 13 per cent duty that it has imposed on Kenya’s juices, malted beer and spirits, which it noted that it goes against the spirit of the EAC Customs Union Protocol.