KENYA – Uganda has protested against Kenya’s decision to limit sugar imports from the East Africa region, setting the stage for a diplomatic row between the two states.
The Uganda’s East African Community (EAC) Affairs minister Shem Bageine reacted angrily to a statement from Kenya that the sugar market remains controlled until a Council of Ministers meets later this month to approve the import curbs.
A key Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) committee has recommended that Kenya be granted a one-year extension to limits on sugar imports from the trade bloc and the Council of Ministers from Comesa will meet on 26th and 27th.
Mr Bageine told Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper that trade in sugar among EAC members states has nothing to do with Comesa affairs.
“What does Comesa have to do with EAC? Let Kenya not mix Comesa with our arrangements. We have different parameters which should not interfere with our internal arrangements,” Mr Bagiene told the Ugandan paper owned by the Nation Media Group.
The move is likely to sour the relationship between the two states that late last year quarrelled over Kenya’s bid to block sugar from the landlocked country from accessing the Kenyan market.
Last year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni accused Kenya of denying goods from Uganda to gain access into the country, saying the move was in contravention of the East Africa Community protocol.
The Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association, in November argued that the country had selectively denied them the market access in Kenya despite the fact that goods from Kenya are allowed in their country.
The Ugandan government is protesting over the creation of unnecessary non-tariff barrier that goes against the spirit of the common market protocol whereby goods should be allowed to move without any restrictions.
In the past, there have been controversies over goods from Uganda flooding the market, hence driving down the price of commodities.