Commodities

State eases dairy farmers’ competition fears in US trade pact talks

dairy

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said they will not allow an unfair deal that jeopardises the welfare of local farmers. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said they will not allow an unfair deal that jeopardises the welfare of local farmers.
  • US dairy farmers want unrestricted access of their milk products to the Kenyan market in the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement with the US.

The government has moved to ease fear among local dairy farmers that when Nairobi and Washington strike a trade deal, it will usher unfair competition.

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said they will not allow an unfair deal that jeopardises the welfare of local farmers.

US dairy farmers want unrestricted access of their milk products to the Kenyan market in the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement with the US.

“Negotiations on modalities to allow importation of milk from the US are ongoing with the government pledging to protect the local dairy industry from unfair competition from the imported products,” said Mr Kimtai.

The Kenya Dairy Board has acknowledged that the influx of milk imports can threaten the local dairy sector. The US has a surplus of over 250 million litres of milk.

Kenya and the US launched negotiations in August for a bilateral trade agreement that the two economies hope could serve as a model for additional agreements across the African continent.

Currently, Kenya levies 50 percent duty under the East African Community Common External Tariff on all milk coming outside the regional trading bloc.

Washington is concerned that the tax on imports may hinder American farms from exporting milk to Kenya.

In a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regarding the trade negotiations, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said Kenya’s protectionist measures over its dairy sector limits US dairy’s ability to enter the Kenyan market.


IDFA is the representative body of the US’ dairy manufacturing and marketing industry.

Economic pundits have raised concern that the US is likely to demand for a reciprocity on the trade deal in a move that will see American firms export their goods to the country without restriction.

“Looking at America’s approach, they would want to bring more of their cheap goods here taking advantage of the trade deal,” said Wilson Songa, former Trade Principal Secretary.