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KAM protests easing of import rules

Phyllis Wakiaga
Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Manufacturers say lifting stringent conditions that outlawed importation of uninspected goods will reverse gains made in blocking substandard and fake products into Kenya.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said the high taxes that manufacturers pay this year as a result of higher sales could be lost if the new rules are operationalised.

Last week, outgoing trade cabinet secretary Peter Munya sanctioned re-introduction of destination inspection as per the legal notice 183 of December 5, 2019.

Mr Munya also reduced the value of non-conformity penalty on importation of uninspected goods from 20 percent to five percent of the value of goods.

“Importation of prohibited goods by unscrupulous traders breeds corruption, increases complexity of clearance notwithstanding inadequate local inspection capacity,” she said.

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“This is against the benefits accrued on Pre-verification of conformity (PVoC) including frustration of competition from sub-standard products, stopping the influx of counterfeit products and reduction in the number of destructions or re-exportation of consignments.”

KAM said Mr Munya’s move exposes Kenya-made goods to fierce competition from lookalike (substandard) and fake goods while giving unscrupulous businesspeople a leeway to dump low quality goods in Kenya.

“You have eroded competitiveness of locally manufactured goods while allowing importation of poor quality products that endanger the lives of Kenyans, harms the environment and are unsafe to use,” said Ms Wakiaga.

The PVoC system launched in 2015 was welcomed by manufacturers as it fast-tracked clearance of goods at Mombasa Port and stamped out importation of substandard and fake goods.

KAM added that the move to dilute the requirement to pre-inspect goods at source will hurt clearance times, clog the port with uninspected goods that are held awaiting inspection and valuation.

KAM urged the government to stay implementation of re-introduction of destination inspection in Kenya and continue implementing strict no entry without inspection at source country before shipping rule imposed in 2018.

Ms Wakiaga said the Trade secretary’s directive not only hindered growth of local industries but discouraged investors who dislike unpredictable erratic policy changes.

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