KENYA – Traders exporting tea to Sudan have received a major lift after Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) started testing consignments headed to the country, cutting the cost by 92%.

The replacement of private testers at the request of the Sudanese government was one of the conditions placed for the tea to continue accessing the market.

This has seen the cost of testing the beverage drop from US$691.7 per consignment to US$49.4.

KEBS started the tests last month and is now issuing certificates of conformity to traders.

“KEBS has started conducting tests on teas being shipped to Sudan as requested by Khartoum,” said the Tea Directorate.

Kenya has also received a one-year extension for market access.

The country sought permission for its tea to continue accessing the Khartoum market after the country reviewed the shelf-life of the beverage from three to one and a-half years.

The standoff over the sell-by date of the commodity threatened sales to Sudan, one of Kenya’s top 10 buyers of tea, which in 2015 saw export volumes drop by 19 million kilogrammes.

In 2015, Sudan Standards and Metrology Organisation (SSMO) revised the shelf-life from three years to one and a-half, which was a major trade barrier for Kenya’s top foreign earner.

“We have finalised everything and KEBS will start issuing certificate of conformity to traders exporting tea to Sudan very soon,” KEBS managing director Charles Ongwae said in an earlier interview.

Mr Ongwae also confirmed the reduced charges.

A Kenyan delegation went to Khartoum last month for further discussions to resolve the stalemate.

Kenya and Sudan have formed a joint committee to carry out a scientific research on the actual shelf-life of tea, which is expected to be completed in the next two years.

In 2016 Kenya, through a meeting of foreign ministry officials from both countries, urged Khartoum to reverse its decision.

Kenya is the leading exporter of tea in the world, selling 95%of its tea in the global market.

Business Daily