What you need to know:
- In July Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze wrote to Kenya seeking removal of milk export blockades and sugar quotas. However, five months later, he has not received a response.
Kenya has not responded to concerns raised about five months ago in a letter by Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze.
In a July 19 letter to Kenya’s Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Mr Tumwebaze noted that Uganda could no longer afford to be diplomatic as East African member states treat it unfairly.
Therefore, he said, Uganda was not demanding anything unimaginable but a fair discussion with Kenya to achieve a mutually rewarding position.
“Talking of quotas of anything of a Ugandan product is even bad enough. Why quotas in the supposedly free EAC Common Market?” he wondered.
Mr Tumwebaze had among others asked Kenya to lift a blockade on Uganda’s milk exports as well as remove sugar quotas on “our sugar”. However, almost five months later, Kenya has not responded to Mr Tumwebaze’s letter.
Yesterday, Mr Tumwebaze told Daily Monitor that whereas the matter was now before the ministries of Trade and East African Affairs, his letter has never been responded to.
“As Agriculture [Ministry] we wrote and put on record our issues. Up to now we have never seen any reply,” he said without giving details.
Asked about the progress, Mr Emmanuel Mutahunga, the Ministry of Trade commissioner external trade, yesterday said the trade standoffs involving Uganda and other East African partner states would be discussed during the November 22-27 EAC meetings, noting the issue currently on table relates to milk and not sugar, which was resolved in April.
However, sugar producers yesterday indicated they continue to face challenges due to limited export permits.
“Out of 90,000 tones [which were agreed on in April], less than 40,000 tones [have been exported]. Ideally by now we would have exported 80,000 tonnes,” Mr Jim Kabeho, the Sugar Manufactures Association chairman, said.
Mr Tumwebaze’s revelation comes as Kenya on Monday again postponed an exercise in which the two countries are seeking to verify the origin of Uganda’s milk exports to Kenya.
Kenya has previously said it had blocked some Ugandan products, among them milk because they are produced by third parties and re-exported to its market, a claim Uganda denies.
A Kenyan delegation had been expected in Uganda this month.
However, on Monday Kenya’s Principal Secretary State Department of Livestock, Harry Kimtai, was reported to have said that the November meeting would not take place because the Kenya Dairy Board was not ready.
“The dairy board was not ready and we have had to push this meeting to December,” said.
This is the third time since April Kenya is postponing the verification exercise touching a matter which has raised questions a to whether the two countries are ready to find a lasting solution.
Last month, the Ugandan High Commissioner to Kenya and the Seychelles, Hassan Wasswa Galiwango, had invited Kenyan authorities to conduct a verification that had been on the cards since April.
“Uganda is supposed to export milk to Kenya but there is a problem that will be resolved soon. We have invited the government of Kenya to send a delegation to inspect Uganda milk factories, to ascertain Uganda’s capacity to produce [exportable] excess.”