Firms decry increase in trade barriers across East Africa

Business News

Manufacturers of confectionery in Kenya, oil and fats in Uganda and a wheat and juice producer from Tanzania reported encountering tariff and non-tariff barriers that blocked them from entering regional markets.                        Yasin Billo, export manager of Tanzanian industrial conglomerate Bakhresa Group, said the company currently has 15 trucks stuck at the Tanzania-Kenya border because the Kenya Revenue Authority changed the rules and systems for exporting goods to the country.

However, Tanzanian Commissioner for Customs and Excise Ben Usaje said Bakhresa Group believed they were being mistreated because of the continued dispute over Kenyan confectionery. Customs officials in Tanzania have blocked Kenyan confectionery products because they were allegedly manufactured using sugar that was imported at zero rate, instead of the EAC’s 100 per cent CET.

Sugar dispute

In 2017, Kenya faced a sugar crisis that prompted importation of sugar at a zero tariff. Under the EAC regulations, this rate should have been 100 per cent, since sugar is a sensitive product that needs protection from dumping. Mr Usaje said it is this sugar that the confectionery manufacturers are using and such products will not be allowed into the Tanzanian market unless a 25 per cent import duty is paid on them.

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