THE Government has with immediate effect slapped duty on all goods imported from Kenya, in an apparent response to the refusal of hundreds of tonnes of Zambian sugar which has been denied entry into that country by customs authorities.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa said all goods entering Zambia from Kenya would now attract full duty in view of that country's refusal to allow a convoy of more than ten trucks ladden with sugar from Zambia Sugar Company, destined for the Kenyan market which has been marooned at Namamga border for the past three weeks.
Mr Mwansa said in an interview in Lusaka that Government had decided to evoke provisions of the protocol of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which gives the right to retaliate to any unfair practices with regard to trade within the region.
He said the measure will remain into effect until such a time when the Kenyan authorities will accept that Zambia produces sugar which should be allowed into that country without any restrictions.
"Our ministry has received a complaint from Zambia Sugar Plc to the effect that trucks carrying its sugar have been stopped by Kenyan authorities against an existing contract and are marooned at the Tanzania-Kenya border.
"Kenyan authorities are claiming that Zambia does not produce any sugar at all and that, the Sugar that is being exported to Kenya is coming from South Africa.
I would like to state that we have been taken aback because we are aware of the fact that, the Republic of Kenya has an office here and mission. And this is the second time it is happening and it is not right," he said.
The Permanent Secretary said Government had discussed the matter with their Kenyan counterparts but nothing has been done and that is why Zambia has evoked provisions of the COMESA protocol which gives the right to retaliate to any unfair practices with regard to trade with partners within the COMESA Free Trade Area.
"Likewise, we have forthwith advised COMESA that imports from Kenya, shall now attract full tariff untill such a time that they will get to accept that we really produce sugar in Zambia," Mr Mwansa said.
He said it was the Government's hope that the matter would come to pass very soon even before the COMESA/Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)/Eastern Africa Community (EAC) negotiation forum slated for this week starts.
More than 10 trucks carrying Zambian Sugar from Zambia Sugar Plc in Mazabuka, have been marooned at the Tanzania-Kenya border despite the company meeting all the export regulations.
Zambia Sugar Plc corporate affairs director and company secretary Lovemore Sievu, has since urged the Government to facilitate smooth trade between Zambia and Kenya.