Kenya Chamber of Commerce urges government to open alcohol industry

KENYA – The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) has put forth a request to the government to consider re-opening the alcohol industry for the revitalization of export markets, accessing finance for trade, supporting human capital and job creation.

“The chamber recognizes the major impact Covid-19 is having on the alcoholic beverage industry due to mandated business closures and other protective measures.

“We call upon the government to consider re-opening the sector gradually to help them operate in compliance with public health guidelines so that they can safely serve Kenyans during this pandemic,” read the statement from the chamber.

The chamber has taken a step in reassuring the government that it will take part in the responsibility to ensure that all measures are adhered to.

“We commit to providing support to the business owners to follow health protocols to operate in a safe manner during this difficult time. This is an important sector that supports livelihoods and creates many jobs,” highlighted the chamber.

The second ban on sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries and closure of bars across the country was effected on 28th July 2020, leaving the alcohol industry players to the mercies of off-trade markets such as supermarkets, wines and spirit shops and convenience stores.

To this end the Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak), has indicated that the ban will lead to supply chain losses of Sh9.1 billion and 57,000 jobs losses between July-September 2020.

The Chamber in a bid to ensure that that Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) stay afloat through access to financial services to ensure business continuity, employment creation, sustainability and economic resurgence has partnered with MasterCard Foundation.

“We are working with key development partners and agencies to support the businesses and MSMEs recovery efforts and mechanism, in this arrangement, we have a strategic partnership with Equity Bank on Sh 200 billion post-Covid 19 Financing arrangement and training,” read the statement.

The chamber has also cast its eyes in the future where it aims to create a competition enabling environment for business that will encourage new players in the business area and boost investments.

“Moving forward, as the business community together with other parties, we will address the technological disruption, changing macroeconomic fundamentals to create a business competitiveness strategy is more relevant than ever to build a more competitive business climate in the country,” it stated.

The organization has also committed to continuing offering their support and advice to the government and other partners so as to create a road map to a strong economic recovery.

“We will pursue our advocacy to support free and open trade in order to stimulate a shared economic recovery process.

“In this regard, we are in solidarity with the government in the pursuit of these new trade agreements with the US and UK to provide commercial opportunities for Kenyan exporters and investors,” the Chamber concluded.

The governments of Kenya and the United States launched free trade negotiations in early July to foster bilateral trade deals, on the argument that enhanced trade increases wealth and is therefore a win-win to both parties.

Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, the trade agreement could be the most significant development in U.S-Africa trade relations since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed Congress in 2000.

It is expected that this deal will form a model for other African countries upon the expiry of the AGOA in 2025.

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