Kenya has a week to lift blockades on Ugandan exports - Kyambadde

Friday January 24 2020

Seized: Boxes of seized Lato Milk, some of which the Kenyan authorities have returned to Uganda on claim that they were smuggled without paying taxes. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya has a week within which it must lift exports blockades placed on Ugandan goods or risk reciprocal measures.
Speaking in an interview on sidelines of the 4th Annual Exporters Conference in Kampala on Wednesday, Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde, said government gave Kenya 15-days, which began with the issuance of a protest note on January 15 to explain why Ugandan exports to the country are being seized and some blocked.
Uganda at least expects a response to the protest note on or before January 29.
“We gave them 15 days. We are left with a few days [they are yet to respond]. We will negotiate with them and if they don’t respond, we will send a delegation there. We might even go to the political level,” Ms Kyambadde said, noting that whereas Uganda might not want to opt for retaliation, “in business sometimes that [retaliation] is necessary. You pick a product and put measures”.
Already, there is an inter-government agency plan that has identified goods that are likely to be targeted in case Uganda makes up its mind to retaliate.
A Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) memo seen by Daily Monitor lists a number of goods, among them juices, assorted household items and roofing materials.
Key among the already marked goods, according to the memo, are Blue Band, juice products from Kevian, assorted household items from Unilever and iron sheets manufactured by Mabati Rolling Mills.
“I wish to update you on what we are doing to counter Kenya’s crackdown on our [Uganda] exports. We have weighed several options on how to respond,” the multi-agency memo, which discusses a lined of measures lined up by Uganda National Bureau of Standards and Uganda Revenue Authority, reads in part.
However, it also cautions against unilateral action that might cause a crisis given that some of the targeted goods have no alternatives manufactured in Uganda.
The memo also notes that whereas Uganda exports are cleared by customs and relevant authorities, they are seized or diverted by Kenya’s inland police before the goods are seized. The reciprocal measures will mainly be a reaction to the current crack down on Ugandan milk in Kenya.
At least, according to records from URA, 19 trucks of Ugandan manufactured powered and UHT milk have been forced to return to Uganda or diverted to different parts within Kenya on varying before the goods they are carrying are seized.
The milk impasse has continued despite President Uhuru Kenyatta quashing a proposed 16 per cent levy on Ugandan milk exports.
The Kenyan Trade Ministry had recently proposed a 16 per cent levy on Ugandan milk on claims that there was need to protect the country’s milk producers.
However, the tax was quashed with President Uhuru, saying the tax would only apply to milk imports from outside the East African Community.
Daily Monitor recently published a story in which Mr Emmanuel Mutahunga, the Trade Ministry commissioner for external trade warned that Uganda would reciprocate in the same measure if East African Community member states continued to lock out its exports.