Uganda petitions Kenya, Tanzania over milk exports

Thursday July 29 2021
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Vendors sieve their milk into coolers at Abeisingana in Kabowhe, Sheema District, in 2018. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA.

By Irene Abalo Otto

Uganda has asked Kenya and Tanzania to remove prohibitive levies placed on its dairy products  saying it could jeopardise trade relations and the East African Community spirit.
In a July 19 letter , the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Mr Frank Tumwebaze,  has asked Kenya and Tanzania, after a flawed soft diplomacy strategy for the two countries, to allow Ugandan milk into their markets.
Since 2020, Uganda has struggled to have its milk products sold in the two East African member states, something the minister said is a barrier to the EAC spirit and regional trade relations.
Mr Tumwebaze also raised before the leadership of Kenya and Tanzania concerns of “ongoing taxes and levies charged on Ugandan dairy products” despite negotiation efforts.
“The TShs2,000 Tanzania (about Shs3,000) levy is prohibitive and hence has hampered Ugandan milk exports to Tanzania solemnly,” the letter addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Tanzania, Mr Adolf Mkenda reads in part.
Mr Tumwebaze also complained about the 1.75 per cent of FOB (Free on Board), Tsh30, 000 (about 46,000 Uganda Shillings) application fees to the Tanzania Dairy Board and 18 per cent Value Added Tax for all dairy products.
“This despite the fact that many discussions were held between our countries on the subject and the promised actions of removal of the same were not implemented, particularly the TShs2,000 levy imposed by your ministry,” Mr Tumwebaze wrote.
Uganda maintains that if there are issues that need to be addressed, they can be handled through bilateral arrangements or the regional trade agreements within the East African Community instead of using arbitrary means such as  high taxes.
Meanwhile, Ugandan milk products have also been restricted in the Kenyan market since January 2020.
“This is despite the fact that Ugandan government formally protested these actions by way of a protest note dated January 15,2021 and both countries are signed up to the East African Community framework,” Mr Tumwebaze wrote to Mr Peter Gatirau Munya, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives.

In April, a joint committee was set up to solve the impasse between Kenya and Uganda for milk product trade to continue smoothly but the matter was never amicably resolved.
Since 2019 when Kenya began restricting Uganda dairy products, there have been frustrations among dairy product exporters on the slow rate of the negotiations.

Position
Uganda maintains that if there are issues that need to be addressed, they can be handled through bilateral arrangements or the regional trade agreements within the East African Community instead of using arbitrary means suchas  high taxes.
 

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