MARKET PROTECTION

State agency challenged to advice government to save collapsing industries

Most threatened include glass, paper, steel and cable industries.

In Summary

•KETRA is tasked with investigating and evaluating allegations of dumping and subsidisation of imported products in Kenya.

•It also evaluates requests for application of safeguard measures to protect local industries.

An aerial view of the industrial area in Nairobi/FILE
An aerial view of the industrial area in Nairobi/FILE

Trade experts want the Kenya Trade Remedies Agency (KETRA) to play an active role in advising the government on appropriate policies to protect local industries.

These includes glass, paper, steel and cable industries that are facing stiff competition from cheap imports and substandard products dumped in the local market, with Asia being among the leading market source.

“The remedy of safeguards accords this country a wide policy space to protect infant industries to grow and become competitive," said Daniel Achach, an international trade law and policy expert.

He challenged the KETRA board to study the domestic industry, identify  strategic sectors for the country's industrial growth, and advise the government to apply safeguard measures to protect and grow these sectors.

He spoke during a three-days sensitisation workshop  in Nairobi, attended by the board members and trade experts.

“Unless addressed immediately, Kenyan manufacturers are faced with extinction and the risk of slumping deeper into import dependency with resultant job losses,” Achach said.

Ugenya MP David Ochieng, who is also an expert in international trade cited glass and paper industries as among those most threatened with death from unfair trade practices from Kenya’s trading partners.

The legislator played a key role in the drafting and enactment of the Kenya Trade Remedies Act in 2017, which gave birth to KETRA.

The agency is tasked with investigating and evaluating allegations of dumping and subsidisation of imported products in Kenya, and evaluating requests for application of safeguard measures.

It is mandated to advice the Cabinet secretary responsible for trade on the results and recommendations of its investigations.

Trade remedies are defence instruments that allow governments to take remedial action against imports causing a material injury to local producers because of alleged price dumping, foreign subsidies or abnormal increases in import volumes.

According to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, local manufacturers have been losing at least 40 per cent of their market share to counterfeiters and dumping.

KETRA is expected to cushion local firms from unfair trade practices, a move that   will put the country at par with peers such as Egypt and South Africa which are applying trade remedy measures in accordance with WTO principles to protect their infant industries.