Kenya has agreed to lift the ban on Ugandan poultry products as the two sides seek a long-term solution to their incessant trade disputes.
The decision was reached on Tuesday after a crisis meeting between line ministers in Nairobi, which also temporarily averted retaliatory restrictions by Uganda on Kenyan produce.
The decision means that Kenya will now accept Ugandan eggs, chicks and chicken, having restricted the produce in February this year, ostensibly to allow the Kenyan farmers recover from Covid-19 disruptions.
It also means Uganda’s promise to impose retaliatory restrictions on Kenyan agricultural produce will be stayed at least until end of January 2022. Uganda had last week said it was listing down agricultural goods from Kenya which will be refused market in Uganda as a protest against Kenya’s continual ban on poultry, milk and other agricultural produce.
A joint communique shared with newsrooms on Tuesday indicated that the two sides will not impose restrictions on poultry products, the most contentious issue in their trade dispute, as they work out a long-term policy deal to eliminate trade barriers.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Peter Munya and his Trade counterpart Betty Maina met with Ugandan Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze and agreed “to immediately remove any administrative measures that have hitherto inhibited trade in poultry and poultry products”, the joint statement said.
The two sides also agreed to work on removing restrictive levies that violate the EAC Customs Union Protocol by July next year, a reiteration of a declaration they had made in April.
But Nairobi insisted on conducting another round of inspections on milk processing chains in Uganda to verify quality and determine whether the neighbouring country's dairy was actually local produce.
Kenya had, besides protecting local market, also charged that Uganda had falsified production details by repackaging imported milk and reselling it to Kenya as local produce. Under the Customs Union Protocol, local produce is only considered so if more than two thirds of the main ingredients are local.
Kenya will be sending a team of verifiers to Uganda before end of January to check if Uganda’s milk processing meets its quality standards as well as Customs Union requirements.
In April, Trade PS Johnson Weru led a delegation from Kenya to Uganda after trade tensions intensified. Uganda had accused Kenya of limiting some of its agricultural exports, particularly milk and sugar.
During the visit, the two governments agreed to resolve existing trade disputes and established a trading framework that would allow Uganda to export up to 90,000 metric tonnes of sugar per year.
Any sour trade relations with Uganda risk dealing Kenya’s economy a big blow, since the country is Kenya’s biggest trading partner, with figures as at 2020 indicating that Kenya exported goods worth $673.66 million.