Kenya has cut sugar imports from Uganda by 79 percent in a move that is likely to escalate the ongoing trade dispute between Nairobi and Kampala. The Sugar Directorate said this week that traders will only be allowed to import 18,923 tonnes of sugar from Uganda down from 90,000 that Kenya had earlier said would be shipped in from its landlocked neighbour.
Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and her Ugandan counterpart had in April agreed that Uganda will be allowed to export 90,000 tonnes of sugar to Kenya as soon as the verification mission on the country of origin is completed.
In the revised quota published this week, countries from Southern Africa will account for the largest share of imports under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) window.
This will see eSwatini lead the pack with 68,959 tonnes followed by Zambia at 41,152 and Mauritius bringing in 36,036.“Regarding Kenya’s restriction of Uganda’s sugar exports, Uganda shall export 90,000 tonnes of wholly originating sugar per annum. The findings of the ongoing sugar sector verification mission shall inform the implementation of this decision,” said the ministers in April.
Should Uganda have been allowed to import 90,000 tonnes, then it would account for 43 percent of the total imports by Kenya from the Comesa region.
Kenya had entered into a deal with Uganda to allow Kampala to export surplus sugar into the country three years ago, but Nairobi delayed the implementation until late last year when the neighbouring state was allowed to ship in 20,000 tonnes of the 90,000 tonnes surplus that it had requested. Kenya has been at loggerheads with Uganda over sugar imports with local producers arguing that the commodity coming from the landlocked neighbour originates from third party countries.
Last month, Uganda protested Kenya’s delay in abolishing the seven percent levy on milk imports following recent bilateral talks meant to resolve the stalemate.In a letter dated July 19, Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze asked Kenya and Tanzania to allow Ugandan milk into their markets, after a flawed soft diplomacy strategy.