Kenya has eased barriers for sugar imports from Uganda to allow the country which is one of its key trading partners sell its surplus locally.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed said there had been a delay in processing of permits following reorganisation at the Kenya Sugar Board which saw it merger with other government agriculture related parastatals to form the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority.
“There was a technical problem in processing of permits but I would want to assure the government of Uganda and the private sector that the issue has been dealt with. We will meet in Nairobi in coming days to lay down long-term solutions so that this problem does not recur,” said Amina in a statement after a business forum held in Kampala.
Uganda had complained that Kenya was blocking access to its sugar market.
Kenya is a sugar deficient country and imports sugar from various countries including Uganda. The two countries are considering formation of a joint body to manage the sub-sector in the region.
Uganda agreed to allow Kenya beef and related products to access Uganda market immediately.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde said although there was legislation required, Uganda had decided to immediately open its market to Kenya.
“We are going to put in place mechanisms to implement this directive as soon as next week,” said Kyambadde.
The meeting also agreed to hold a forum to tackle other issues including standardisation for tea and maize; access to Uganda for Kenya cement and rice, EAC duty remission scheme and anti-malarial drugs and charges of plant import permit.
Trade balance between Kenya and Uganda, is hugely in favour of the former with exported goods valued at Sh60 billion in 2014. Imports from Uganda in 2014 were valued at Sh17.5 billion. Kenya is a leading investor in Uganda with over 350 Kenyan companies investing in the country. The value of Kenya’s investment portfolio in Uganda was estimated at over $800 million in 2014.