BARRIERS

Lift trade bans, Kenya and Uganda told

Fees by Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA)-Kenya also blamed for stifling trade.

In Summary

•There is also the issue of a single lane road on the Kenya side, which is slowing down movement.

•The issues were raised during an EABC –Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) public-private dialogue at the Busia One-Stop Border Post.

Busia One Stop Border Post/HANDOUT
Busia One Stop Border Post/HANDOUT

Unilateral bans on products, high fees and trade information failure are stifling cross-border Kenya- Uganda trade, experts have said.

The fees are mainly by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA)-Kenya, the East African Business Council (EABC) says.

There is also the issue of a single lane road on the Kenya side, which is slowing down movement.

The issues were raised during an EABC –Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) public-private dialogue at the Busia One-Stop Border Post.

During the forum, cross border traders decried the impounding of fish from Kenya destined to the DR Congo worth Sh40 million in October 2021 by Uganda, and an import ban on eggs and sugarcane by Kenya.

Speaking during the forum, EABC chief executive John-Bosco Kalisa said: “Decline of intra-EAC trade from 21 per cent in 2015 to 14 per cent is highly attributed to Non-Tariff Barriers.” 

Kalisa urged the EAC Partner States to avoid taking unilateral actions and uplift all product import bans for trade to flourish.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have had tit-for-tart bans on common products, which has affected intra-regional trade.

The Covid-19 pandemic has come with its equal challenges with measures to contain the spread of the virus disrupting movement.

The most recent one is the reduced validity on the Covid certificate by Uganda to 72 hours and fees charged on tests, which led to protests by truck drivers, which created a snarl-up stretching up to 40km.

KRA’s customs officer at Busia, Philip Koech, however said this has reduced to 10 kilometres.

The TradeMark East Africa backed OSBPs initiative has helped ease cross-border movement in East Africa.

According to Uganda Revenue Authority’s officer Uponja Emmanuel, cargo clearance used to take two to three days before the establishment of the One-Stop Border Post.

It now takes three to four hours and less than 30 minutes for transit goods,” Emmanuel said.

Busia Traders Association chairman Charles Achieng called for a structured engagement mechanism for traders at the border to the national and regional level to inform the formulation of policies.