Kenya-Uganda Trade War: The East African Community steps in

The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Mr. Peter Mathuki, has stepped between the warring countries in a trade dispute, Uganda and Kenya, to broker a deal geared towards rapprochement.

Hon Frank Tumwebaze

This happened after the Agriculture Minister Mr. Frank Tumwebaze called Mr. Mathuki earlier to discuss “some trade issues”, which are driving a wedge between the two neighbouring countries.

Mr. Tumwebaze prefaced his remarks with thanks to Mr. Mathuki for attempting to come up with a solution to mend the breach between the two countries and thereby arrive at a lasting solution which works for both countries.

“A follow-up conversation will happen tentatively next Tuesday,” Mr. Tumwebaze revealed.

The trade dustup between the two otherwise friendly nations resulted from a ban on Uganda's poultry products on the Kenyan market.

This ban was imposed in June, this year, leaving traders and farmers in both countries scratching their heads and rueful of their losses.

However, this most recent ban was part of a cocktail of others which involved Kenya banning other farming products like maize, milk and sugarcane coming in from Uganda.

The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, announced this week that Uganda was tired of Kenya’s flippant approach to trade relations between the two countries and was set to ban some agricultural products from Kenya as a retaliatory measure to Kenya’s bans.

“We have been too patient. In the past, we have not reciprocated, but now we are going to. This has gone on for too long and within a short time they too will understand what we are going through,” Kadaga told the media on Tuesday.

Mr. Tumwebaze recently wrote to the Kenyan authorities over the range of bans on Ugandan dairy products, he said that such bans were bad for business in both nations and were having an adverse effect on Uganda’s dairy industry.

The agriculture minister bemoaned this state of affairs saying that in spite of Uganda’s best efforts to smooth out the wrinkled relations between the two nations, which included verifying the quality of Uganda’s milk, Kenya remained obstinate.

This verification exercise that Mr. Tumwebaze alluded to was conducted by a delegation from Kenya in December last year. This delegation comprised officials from the Kenya Dairy Board. However, he said, despite the findings of the delegation Kenya had continued to block entry of Uganda’s milk into Kenya, reducing import permits by 8% and 10% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

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