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Uhuru visit to Uganda unlocks trade in cheap sugar and meat

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President Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni during bilateral talks at State House, Kampala on Saturday. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni during bilateral talks at State House, Kampala on Saturday. PHOTO | PSCU 

By NEVILLE OTUKI, [email protected]

Posted  Tuesday, August 11   2015 at  09:25

In Summary

  • The agreements were signed during Mr Kenyatta’s three-day visit to Kampala where he held bilateral meetings with his host Mr Museveni and a

Kenya and Uganda have struck a deal allowing cheaper Ugandan sugar into the Kenyan market, ending the long-running feud over the trading of the commodity across their common border.

The deal President Uhuru Kenyatta signed with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni in Kampala also clears the way for Kenyan traders to export beef to Uganda under similar terms, deepening the commercial ties between Kampala and East Africa’s largest economy.

The agreements were signed during Mr Kenyatta’s three-day visit to Kampala where he held bilateral meetings with his host Mr Museveni and addressed the Ugandan parliament.

Ministry of Trade officials said they were expediting issuance of import permits to Ugandan sugar traders to enable them feed the undersupplied Kenyan market.

Kenya has had a near diplomatic stand-off with Kampala over the Ugandan traders’ quest to export sugar to the region’s largest economy, arguing that the country did not produce enough sugar to meet its consumption needs and would therefore not have excess to export.

The Kenyan authorities have maintained that Ugandan traders were importing sugar cheaply for repackaging and exporting to lucrative markets such as Kenya.

Uganda has strongly defended itself against the allegation, arguing it has excess production capacity that can produce sugar for export to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

Foreign Affairs and International Trade secretary Amina Mohamed said the slow pace of processing of permits for Ugandan sugar exporters was behind the stalemate, adding that the issue had been resolved.

Mrs Mohamed said the delays had been caused by Kenya’s re-organisation of ministries and directorates in the sector, including the Kenya Sugar Board which is now a unit within the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA).

The AFFA, however, maintained yesterday that the agreement did not provide for free flow of Ugandan sugar into Kenya but a guided movement of the lucrative commodity to prevent the flooding of the Kenyan market and killing local millers.

“The imports would have to be based on Kenya’s deficit,” said AFFA director-general Alfred Busolo.

Uganda has continually faulted Kenya’s 2012 decision to block sugar imports from the neighbouring country in violation of the East African Community (EAC) common market protocol, which provides for free movement of goods without restrictions.

Kenya’s sugar market remains protected from cheaper Comesa imports under special safeguard measures that were supposed to end in January 2012 but have since been extended annually at the request of Nairobi.

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