There is simmering tension between Kenya and Uganda for a second time this year due to “unfair trade practices”.
According to frustrated manufacturers and industrialists under Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), Kenya has been questioning the origin of goods even those with the “Q” mark issued by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards.
UMA accused Kenya of barring some of their products from entering the country on baseless claims such as; counterfeit goods.
The Ugandan manufacturers have also noted that the East African country has complained that their goods are smuggled in a bid to evade tax.
They also alleged that Kenyan dealers in goods originating from Uganda – poultry, milk, sugar – are harassed.
“Kenya has always benefited from both access to cheap Ugandan raw materials and fresh produce for their agro–processing industry and market for finished products,” executive director of UMA, Daniel Birungi said last week.
“And in the spirit of the regional integration and the fact that we have common history and aspirations, we expect Kenya to return the favour and not make it difficult to do business.”
UMA threatened to block Kenyan goods from entering Uganda if the matter is not resolved by the end of December 2020.
Thereafter, the manufacturers will allegedly seek redress at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).
Under the EAC Common Market Protocol, free movement of goods and services is guaranteed across the borders, but according to Birungi, liquid petroleum gas cylinders, sugar and poultry products are some of the goods restricted from entering Kenya.
“Despite persistent trade distortions orchestrated against Uganda, the country’s exports to Kenya had been increasing exponentially until 2017, when Uganda managed to report for the first ever trade surplus with Kenya,” UMA said, adding that Kenya has in the recent past intensified non-tariff barriers with fears of possible takeover of the trade balance of power.
In February, President Yoweri Museveni resisted retaliatory action against Kenya after a consignment of milk was seized and later sent back.
Kenya Bureau of Standards (Ken’s) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) nabbed 19 truckloads of Lato milk in January on alleged quality concerns.
“I saw people say retaliate; I will not accept because President Kenyatta is a very friendly person, very clear-headed on business because he is a businessman himself. He’s also very clear-headed on African issues,” Mr Museveni was quoted by Daily Monitor.
Uganda is also in a fix when it comes to Tanzania’s incessant tariff changes and a stand off with Rwanda.