Kenya will host top government officials from Zambia this month in a bid to solve the outstanding trade issues that have made it difficult to export dairy and oil products to the southern Africa state.
High Commissioner to Zambia and Malawi Sophie Kombe said negotiations have been going on for some time.
Whereas the two countries might strike a deal on oil, it might be difficult to reach a common stand on milk because of the difference in standards applied in Nairobi and Lusaka.
Zambia rejected Kenya’s milk saying it has a level of bacteria that’s beyond the country’s required maximum. Zambia allows total bacteria count (TBC) of 200,000 while Kenya follows the international benchmark of one million TBC.
“Officials from Zambia’s ministry of Livestock are expected in Kenya this month to discuss the issue and solve the stalemate,” said Ms Kombe, who is also Kenya’s permanent representative to Comesa.
Zambia also has a problem with Kenya’s palm oil over rules of origin. Kenya imports crude palm oil, mainly from Asia and processes it for domestic use while the suplurs is exported.
The country does not grow its own palm trees. Last year, Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo held bilateral talks with Zambian officials in Lusaka over the two matters.
Kenya wants the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) bloc, which Kenya and Zambia are members, to come up with a common standard agreeable to all to deal with such Non-Tariff Barriers.
Last year Comesa said it would engage the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Zambian government to resolve the stalemate.
Comesa director for trade customs and monetary affairs Francis Mangeni said experts from FAO, the ministries of Commerce, Trade and Industry as well as Agriculture from both countries would meet to sort out the issue.