By John Ikani
Kenya and Uganda have agreed to abolish the trade barriers that have led to a sour relationship between the two neighbouring countries which saw various goods subjected to taxes against the East African Community (EAC) Customs Union Protocol.
Kenya has in the last one year had trade-related tensions with its landlocked neighbour, especially on milk products, which saw Nairobi confiscate hundreds of tonnes of Lato milk from Uganda in 2020.
A delegation from Kenya led by Trade Secretary Betty Maina has been in Uganda to deliberate on the matter after Kampala raised concerns over Nairobi’s imposition of taxes on goods coming in from Uganda and banning milk and poultry products.
Ms Maina met with her Ugandan counterpart Amelia Kyambadde as well as President Yoweri Museveni and it was agreed that both countries do away with the punitive taxes.
In a joint communique, the two sides pledged to harmonise policies on agriculture to reduce delays and cut down on bureaucracies in doing business.
“The signing of this memorandum today will enhance agricultural trade between Uganda and Kenya, improve interdependence of agro-based industries in the two countries. The document will advance and actualise the resolutions arrived during September 2021 at a trade symposium in Mombasa,” read the joint communique.
During the signing of the MoU on Wednesday, Uganda Consul-General, Paul Mukumbya said Uganda will benefit from the deal considering it has a surplus of agricultural produce with need for a ready market.
“The two countries have come up with recommendations for priority improvement in the management of export quality standards for agro-products and soon our milk, Lato, which was banned in Kenya, will be on your shelves. We hope the signing of this MoU will strengthen co-operation as we seek to gain a better understanding of the vital role of agriculture and trade within the region,” said Mr Mukumbya.
The MoU will see Kenya scrap the 35 per cent duty that is imposed on gas cylinders that are manufactured in Uganda.
On the other hand, Uganda agreed to scrap the 13 percent duty that it has imposed on Kenya’s juices, malted beer and spirits, which it noted that it goes against the spirit of the EAC Customs Union Protocol.