A Kenyan delegation is currently in Uganda for bilateral talks over strained trade relations.
The Kenyan team is led by Betty Maina, Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise Development.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the Kenyan and Ugandan officials will conduct a sugar verification exercise as well as discuss market access challenges for poultry, maize and dairy products, and other non-tariff barriers.
Earlier this year, Kenya restricted importation of milk, maize and poultry products from Uganda, and Ugandan legislators threatened to retaliate.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday said he met with the Kenyan team and discussed trade relations between the two countries in light of trade barriers.
“Competition has been generated by the fact that we are trading in a common market, however, the ultimate logic of EAC (East African Community) integration is that one who is more efficient should be allowed to sell. We should eliminate irregularities with strategic analysis, not endless fights,” Mr Museveni said.
Grace Adong, Uganda’s acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, said the interactions between the two sides aim at building a strong regional block with less trade restrictions.
Ambassador John Weru, the Principal Secretary of Kenya’s State Department for Trade, was positive that the ongoing week-long deliberations would bear positive results.
The team will this week embark on a sugar verification mission which will see them visit more than 14 sugar factories around the country to ascertain Uganda’s sugar production capacity.
Uganda’s annual sugar production capacity currently stands at approximately 550,000 tonnes but its domestic consumption is 360,000 tonnes, according to official data.
In March 2019, Uganda secured concessions to increase its sugar quota to Kenya from 36,000 to 90,000 tonnes on condition that it meets the rules of origin criteria established under the EAC.
Following a midterm review in December 2019, the two parties noted that the sugar exports had increased from 36,000 to 57,273 tonnes as of October.
It was then agreed that a verification mission would be undertaken by Kenya to ascertain the origin of Uganda’s sugar before Nairobi can consider increasing the quota to 90,000.
Uganda’s sugar stocks have now accumulated to 65,000 tonnes worth $40 million and are held in various stores across the country.
Uganda’s Trade ministry says the country needs to find new exports markets in the region to export its surplus.