Kenya is reviewing its law on importation of animal products to enable its traders to gain access to the Ugandan market.
Uganda had rejected Kenyan beef and animal products because Kenya did not have restrictions on imports from countries once affected by Mad Cow Disease (BSE). A Bill to review the law is in the third reading stage in the Kenyan parliament.
Whereas Ugandan law prohibit importation of beef and animal products from ex-Mad Cow countries, Kenyan laws only bar imports from Europe while the port of Mombasa receives imports from all over the world.
“We expect that parliament will expedite the passing into law of the Bill for our traders to start entering the market soon,” said a Kenyan government official.
Kenya exports beef mainly to the European Union. Other markets are Egypt, Malaysia, Qatar, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Mauritius.
At the recent bilateral trade meeting in Kampala, Kenya said it had also stepped up the fight against livestock diseases with the creation of disease-free zones so as to meet the required sanitary standards in the Laikipia-Isiolo complex and at the Coast. It has borrowed the zoning concept from Botswana, one of Africa’s leading beef exporters.
Uganda banned Kenyan beef in 1997, claiming it did not meet the required standards. Earlier attempts to resolve the issue through bilateral talks had failed.
The EAC Secretariat had earlier indicated that the resolution of the dispute would require political goodwill owing to pressure on the Ugandan government not to open the country’s beef market to competition.
Although Uganda maintains the ban is a result of disease threats, insiders say influential people with interests in the meat business are protecting their market share.
However, due to the ban, Uganda experiences intermittent supply shortages. Ugandan traders also claimed that they were not permitted to export maize to Kenya because of high PH levels due to its not being dried properly.
“The matter will be discussed further between the two authorities for free maize trade,” reads the agreement.
Kenya halted maize imports from Uganda because it had high moisture content, hence was deemed unfit for human consumption as it could harbour the aflatoxin disease-causing agents.
Kenya also pledged to act on claims that Ugandan tea was often held at Malaba border despite having the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certificate issued in Uganda, delaying its delivery to the Mombasa tea auction. Kenyan authorities were said to instead issue plant import permits at a fee.
“This is a complaint that had not been raised by the Ugandan Tea Association,” said East African Tea Trade Association managing director Edward Mudibo.
Other trade disputes include the treatment of Ugandan cargo importers at the Mombasa port and restrictions by Uganda on cigarette exports.