Traders dealing in poultry and poultry products are being charged Ksh70 [Shs2,500] to secure entry of their eggs into Kenya, which goes against earlier agreements.
Multiple traders and trade associations that this website spoke to indicate that the levy is among other restrictive measures that have been imposed on eggs from Uganda.
This comes six months after Kenya in December lifted a ban that it had imposed on Uganda’s poultry and poultry products as it sought to protect its farmers from the effects of Covid-19.
In a joint statement in January Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina, and Uganda’s Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze had indicated that Kenya would allow the sale of Ugandan eggs, chicks and chicken, which had been restricted since February 2021.
The meeting, among others, also resolved to have the two countries work on a long-term policy deal to eliminate all trade barriers, including removal of restrictive levies that were being implemented in violation of the East African Community [EAC] customs union protocols.
However, it has now emerged that Kenyan traders are now required to acquire import permits and pay a levy of Kshs70 [Shs2,500] for each tray of eggs they import from Uganda into the country.
Mr Fred Odhiambo, a trader in Busia, described the new levy as “restrictive” and violates the “protocols on free movement of goods and services from East African Community [EAC] member states, of which Kenya is a signatory”.
“We buy a tray of eggs from Uganda at KShs320 [about Shs9,600], which we sell in Kenya at KShs400 [about Shs12,000]; but if you have to pay a tax of Shs2,500 for that tray and transport costs, we end up counting losses,” he said.
Mr Collins Sidialo, was one time part of a track that was carrying 6,000 trays of eggs, which was stopped by Kenyan authorities and slapped with Ksh42,000 [Shs1.26m] as levies.
“We had to look for the money and pay as continuing to have the truck held at the border would put us at risk of having our goods spoilt,” Mr Sidialo said, noting that the eggs business has become tricky because whereas the business has become expensive, consumers are demanding for lower prices.
Mr Godfrey Oundo Ogwabe, the chairperson of Uganda National Cross Border Trade, said: “The implementation of levies on Ugandan eggs by Kenya was a bad policy and in violation of the EAC policy of free movement of goods and services originating from the member states.”
Kenya has for a long time blocked a number of goods from Uganda, among them milk, sugar and beef and poultry products from entering its markets on claims that include accusations of faulting rules of origin and set standards.
Mr David Erulu, the chairman Busia-Kenya Cross Border Trade, early this week wondered what Kenya meant when it said it had lifted the ban on Ugandan eggs, noting that implementing “restrictive trade policies” is not only counterproductive to Uganda but the region as a whole.
Council Phiona Rwandarugali, the EALA MP Aspirant 2022-2027 said unilateral actions by Kenya would lead to retaliation and unnecessary trade wars from other member states.
“It is unfortunate that our brother Kenya continues to behave this way in total disregard of the EAC Treaty and protocols that bind us as a community,” Council Rwandarugali said adding:
“Such behaviour goes against our relationship and objectives of the EAC for which member states are bound. It’s my opinion that we engage as countries before slapping such levies against each other in total violation of the EAC Treaty and Customs Union protocols that bind us”.
“If Kenya has genuine complaints about Ugandan products let them bring them to the table instead of taking unilateral action which might lead to retaliation and unnecessary trade wars.”
In 2020, Kenya blocked Ugandan sugar and sugarcanes, costing traders who were exporting raw cane to sugar mills billions of shillings as the raw material was left to rot on trucks at the border. During the same period, Kenya banned Ugandan dairy products, arguing that they were substandard before later claiming that the milk was not originating from Uganda.
In 2021, the Kenya’s Agriculture ministry banned Ugandan cereals, including maize, which they said bore aflatoxins which were putting the lives of their nationals at risk of cancer.