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Kenya opens market for US wheat after bilateral talks

wheat
Kenya is a net importer of wheat. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya has agreed to lift a decade-old prohibition on US wheat following a deal between President President Uhuru Kenyatta and Donald Trump.

It will see American wheat from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington states shipped to Kenya regardless of state of origin or port of export, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement.

For the last 12 years, Kenya has locked wheat from the three states, citing prevalence of a fungal disease known as flag smut of wheat (urocystis agropyri).

“American farmers in the Pacific Northwest now have full access to the Kenyan wheat market,” USDA Undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programms Greg Ibach said in a statement.

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and APHIS/PPQ of the US signed the Export Certification Protocol allowing the wheat imports to Kenya on January 28.

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The protocol gives US exporters full access to Kenya’s wheat market, valued at nearly Sh50 billion ($500 million) annually.

Kenya is a net importer of wheat, bringing in two-thirds of its requirement to meet the annual consumption of 900,000 tonnes against the production of 350,000 tonnes.

Kenya charges 10 percent duty on all imported wheat, which is cheaper than the locally-produced commodity.

As part of the technical agreement, APHIS of the US will enhance general surveillance for the fungal-disease-prone wheat.

The win for US farmers comes amid discussion for a free trade pact between Nairobi and Washington.

“Going forward, the USDA team looks forward to building on this success and further strengthening our relationship with Kenya as we pursue a new bilateral free trade agreement that will create additional market opportunities for US producers and exporters,” said US Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney in a statement.

President Trump and President Kenyatta announced intention to start formal talks on a trade agreement.

President Kenyatta had said a new trade deal could make Kenya a hub for US companies doing business in Africa.

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