China Square row calls for trade policy clarity


China Square in Nairobi on February 27, 2023. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

The controversy surrounding the operations of a popular Chinese-owned store at Kenyatta University should be a reminder that Kenya needs to clarify its trade policy.

China Square has divided opinions among both the political class and the general public over its low-priced goods.

The State should come clean on what Kenya’s trade policy is, including the dos and don’ts for foreign entities, given that this can easily morph from a trade squabble into a diplomatic tiff.

Separating policy from political noise will help bring clarity to investors intending to do business in Kenya.

The Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry owes Kenyans and the investing public a clarification on what foreigners can or cannot be licensed to do in Kenya.

On the China Square row, the State should, for instance, explain what kind of licence was granted to the outlet, how its goods have been coming into the country and why all of a sudden there is a problem.

The pace of globalisation is picking up and Kenya’s investors are setting shop outside the country too.

Only clear trade policies can save businesses from the disruption that comes with political noise.

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