Kenya has agreed to lift the ban on Ugandan poultry products as both sides seek a long-term solution to their ongoing trade disputes.
The decision was made on Tuesday after a crisis meeting between line ministers in Nairobi, which also temporarily averted retaliatory restrictions by Uganda for Kenyan products.
The decision means Kenya is now accepting Ugandan eggs, chicks and chickens after products were restricted in February this year, ostensibly to allow Kenyan farmers to recover from the disruption caused by Covid-19.
It also means that Uganda’s pledge to impose retaliatory restrictions on Kenyan agricultural products will be suspended until at least the end of January 2022. Uganda announced last week it would list Kenyan agricultural products that are in the Uganda market in protest at Kenya’s continued ban on poultry, milk and other agricultural products.
A joint communiqué shared with newsrooms on Tuesday showed the two sides will not impose restrictions on poultry products, the most controversial issue in their trade dispute, while working out a long-term political deal to remove barriers to trade.
Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Minister Peter Munya and his trade colleague Betty Maina met with the Ugandan Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze and agreed to “immediately lift all administrative measures that have hindered trade in poultry and poultry products”, the joint statement said.
The two sides also agreed to work by July next year to end restrictive taxes in violation of the EAC Customs Union Protocol, reiterating a statement they made in April.
However, Nairobi insisted on doing another round of dairy chain inspections in Uganda to check quality and see if the neighboring country’s dairy was actually local.
In addition to protecting the local market, Kenya had also accused Uganda of falsifying production details by repackaging imported milk and reselling it to Kenya as local products. According to the Customs Union Protocol, local products are only considered as such if more than two thirds of the main ingredients are local.
Kenya will send a team of inspectors to Uganda before the end of January to check whether milk processing in Uganda meets the quality standards and the requirements of the customs union.
In April, Trade PS Johnson Weru led a delegation from Kenya to Uganda after trade tensions intensified. Uganda had accused Kenya of restricting some of its agricultural exports, particularly milk and sugar.
During the visit, the two governments agreed to resolve existing trade disputes and create a trading framework that would enable Uganda to export up to 90,000 tons of sugar per year.
Any bad trade relations with Uganda risks a severe blow to Kenya’s economy as the country is Kenya’s largest trading partner, with 2020 figures showing Kenya exporting $ 673.66 million in goods.