Uganda has protested Kenya’s delay in abolishing a seven per cent levy on milk imports following recent bilateral talks meant to resolve the stalemate as Kenya attributes this on third wave of Covid-19 that has hit Uganda.
In a letter dated July 19, Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries Frank Tumwebaze asked Kenya and Tanzania to allow Ugandan milk into their markets after a flawed soft diplomacy strategy.
Trade Minister Betty Maina and her Ugandan counterpart had, in April, agreed to abolish the trade barriers that have strained relations between the two neighbouring countries since late 2019.
“Despite the fact that many discussions were held between our countries on the subject, the promised actions of removal of the same were not implemented,” Mr Tumwebaze said.
Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said they were ready to go to Uganda for a verification mission but the country was struck by the third wave of Covid-19, leading to delays.
Tonnes of Lato
“However, we’re now in the process of visiting Uganda for the mission,” the PS said.
Over the last year, Kenya has had trade-related tensions with its landlocked neighbour, especially on milk products, which saw Nairobi confiscate hundreds of tonnes of Lato milk from Uganda in 2020.
Uganda maintains that if there are issues that need addressing, they can be handled through bilateral talks or regional trade pacts within the East African Community instead of using arbitrary means like high taxes.
“[The] 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 Peter Munya, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives.
In April, a joint committee was set up to resolve the impasse between Kenya and Uganda for milk product trade to continue smoothly, but the matter is yet to be amicably concluded.
Uganda had agreed to invite Kenyan official to their country for a verification mission on whether Kampala has the ability to produce all the milk that is exported to the country.
The Kenyan delegation was in Uganda to discuss the matter after Kampala raised concerns over Nairobi’s imposition of taxes on goods coming in from Uganda and banning milk and poultry products.
Ms Maina met with her Ugandan counterpart Amelia Kyambadde as well as President Yoweri Museveni and it was agreed that both countries do away with the punitive taxes.