KEBS seeks more inspection agents to boost trade with Japan

New pre-shipment rules slowing down business- envoy

In Summary

•The government gave a directive for all goods to be cleared by PVOC agents, thus leading to delays hurting the trade partnership.

•Currently the trade balance between Kenya to Japan is 1 to 14.

Horie Ryoichi, Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya
Horie Ryoichi, Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya

The Kenya Bureau of Standards wants the government to increase the number of more Pre-export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) agents to increase Kenya's trade with Japan.

This follows the government's directive that all goods be cleared by PVoC agents, leading to delays that have hurt the trade partnership.

Currently the trade balance between Kenya to Japan is 1 to 14.


Japan is the major source of used vehicles in the country making up 85 per cent of car sales in Kenya.

“The Government of Japan has been continuing to encourage Japanese companies to invest in Kenya through various support systems and I would like us to resolve any business challenges experienced during this dialogue,” Horie Ryoichi, Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya said during a press briefing.

Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) to standards for goods destined for Kenya from abroad is done by independent service providers who are appointed by Kebs through a competitive tendering.

Goods found to meet relevant Kenyan standards are issued with certificates of conformity (CoCs) by the inspection agents marking the end of the inspection process.

The pre-inspection programme is aimed at speeding up cargo clearance at the ports of entry, prevent counterfeiting, and shield locally manufactured goods from unfair trade practices, among others.

However due to the low number of agents, it has been slowing down the clearance.

We will continue to give world-class facilitation to Japanese and other investors in the country to make Kenya a top trade destination,” said Dennis Waweru, chairman KenInvest Board.


Kenya is the most attractive trade partner to Japan at 32.9 per cent followed by Nigeria and South Africa.

A legal advisor for the Kenya Bureau of Standard (Kebs) in February had asked the quality regulator to put on hold its plan to hire an additional foreign goods inspector, saying the move could expose taxpayers to huge losses.

Instead, the Advocates said the existing pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) contract with a Japanese agent should be allowed to run its term without interference.

Kebs argued that the issuance of additional partners contract will reduce the risk of relying on one partner and the likely exposure in the event of disputes or other challenges involving performance by the existing contractor.