Editorials

Kenya and Uganda should honour trade agreements

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Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina makes her address during the official opening of Kenya-Uganda Agri-Business Symposium and Exhibition at Pride Inn Paradise in Shanzu on September 8, 2021. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG

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Summary

  • That Kenya and Uganda have set a meeting for next month to iron out issues affecting trade between the two countries is good news.
  • This presents an opportunity for both sides to state their respective positions and hopefully find a breakthrough out of the situation.
  • Trade and investment are sensitive issues that require respectful engagement by negotiating parties.

That Kenya and Uganda have set a meeting for next month to iron out issues affecting trade between the two countries is good news.

Kenya and Uganda have in the past year been embroiled in serious feuds over several products, including sugar, milk, and poultry.

The long-drawn trade tensions between the two countries have been damaging and it is time decisive action is taken to restore normalcy for the sake of progression.

Officials from Kenya are scheduled to visit Uganda in November to, among other things verify claims that sugar and milk imported from the landlocked neighbour originates from third-party countries — a claim Kampala denies.

This is encouraging because it presents an opportunity for both sides to state their respective positions and hopefully find a breakthrough out of the situation.

Kenya and Uganda remain dependable trade partners and everything should be done to ensure this relationship continues. For instance, Uganda was the biggest market for Kenyan goods last year — taking up goods worth Sh72.2 billion despite the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As officials prepare for the November talks they should keep in mind that restoring normalcy in the trade ties will require honesty and commitment from both sides.

Trade and investment are sensitive issues that require respectful engagement by negotiating parties. We hope officials from both countries will avoid the empty rhetoric witnessed during previous engagements to ease trade tensions.

You will recall that in April this year officials from Kenya and Uganda signed a framework of cooperation that has largely been disregarded.

For instance, it was agreed that Kenya would import up to 90,000 tonnes of Ugandan sugar per year, up from 11,000 starting July 1, 2021. The officials also agreed to abolish a 35 percent excise duty on liquid petroleum gas cylinders manufactured in Uganda.

In reciprocation to Kenya’s concessions, Uganda was to abolish a 13 percent excise duty on Kenyan-manufactured juices, malted beers, and spirits with effect from July 1, 2021, and scrap a 12 percent verification fee on pharmaceuticals manufactured in Kenya.

Some of these pledges have not been honoured.