Ugandan sugar enters Kenyan, Tanzanian market after protracted negotiations

The IVS Ibis, a bulk carrier, left, and other ships are seen moored on the dockside of Mombasa port, managed by the Kenya Ports Authority, on Friday, April 26, 2013. Snapp/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kenya is the latest neighbor to allow Ugandan sugar access its market after protracted negotiations by both countries.

Kenya had barred sugar imports from Uganda, arguing that most of the sugar did not originate from the east African country to benefit from regional trade protocols.

FILE PHOTO: A view of Kenya’s Mombasa port, East Africa’s busiest, handling imports that include grain, fertilizer, cement and oil as well as exports of coffee, tea and sugar. (Photographer: Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Kenya argued that sugar is imported into Uganda from outside the East African region and later re-bagged for export as though it originated from Uganda.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, according to a State House statement issued on December 23, contacted his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta early this month to discuss the sugar ban.

The two leaders tasked their officials to meet and agree on a workable solution to end the embargo. The two countries later agreed that Kenya would allow up to 90,000 metric tons of Ugandan sugar to access its market duty-free annually.

The two sides agreed that of the 90,000 metric tons, 20,000 metric tons would access the Kenyan market immediately as the rest awaits clearance following a verification process.

Patrick Ocailap, Uganda’s lead negotiator on December 22 said the country is ready to receive Kenyan officials to verify which Ugandan factories make sugar and also confirm that the country has capacity to export high quality sugar.

He said, while briefing Museveni on the outcomes of the talks that the two sides agreed that any sugar imported through Uganda from outside East Africa must pay the full taxes at the Kenyan seacoast of Mombasa.

Ocailap noted that the new sugar trade development would spur the country’s economic growth and also further strengthen bilateral ties.

Museveni, after the brief, thanked Kenya, noting that the understanding would cement the spirit of East African integration.

A similar understanding was also reached with Tanzania in April this year with Tanzania agreeing to import 20,000 metric tons of Ugandan sugar in the initial phase. The initial consignment would be shipped by the end of May 2020, according to the Ugandan government.

Uganda said that the Tanzanian deal would open up market opportunities for its sugar millers who have surplus production.

Amelia Kyambadde, Uganda’s minister of trade said the deal was a relief to Ugandan millers who had been trying to penetrate the Tanzanian market for a long time.

Uganda ministry of trade figures show that the country has 11 functional sugar mills producing some 510,000 tons and the consumption is 360,000 tons per annum. The ministry argues that the surplus is sufficient for export.