Kenya's sugar industry will continue to enjoy protection from influx of imports from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region after the COMESA Council of Ministers passed a resolution accepting Kenya's bid to extend sugar safeguards for two more years.
The current sugar safeguards will expire in February 2019 hence with the extension the safeguards will run up to February 2021.
Under the COMESA treaty, safeguard measures can be applied to domestic industries to protect them against international competition until they become mature and competitive.
The push for this extension was led by Foreign Affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba who is leading Kenya's delegation to the 38th COMESA Council of Ministers and Summit. Ababu is accompanied by Trade PS Dr. Chris Kiptoo.
Speaking after the hard fought breakthrough at the Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Hon Ababu hailed the extension as a fantastic window of opportunity for Kenya to revamp her sugar industry. "It has been a tough battle to get this two-year extension.
But we have articulated our position superbly and what has been adopted is win-win really for Kenya and the rest of the COMESA fraternity. Am very pleased", Ababu said.
He hailed the Kenyan delegation he is leading for the great teamwork, and added: "It is very good for Kenya as this ring fences our sugar sub-sector from indiscriminate sugar dumping, but we must make good use of this crucial extension so that we do not seek another one in 2021. We must now accelerate substantive and effective reforms in the sugar sub-sector to make our production competitive and seek to bridge the current national consumption deficit of over 989,000 metric tonnes. We must push forward with the privatization agenda, power co-generation and bio-fuel production, revision of sugar pricing policies and step up research and development".
Ababu also stressed the need to further protect Kenya's sugar market from unregulated influx of cheap sugar from outside the COMESA region to ensure our local industry grows.
Ababu represented Kenya at the start of meetings of the COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Among the issues on the agenda are regional peace and security as well as democracy and good governance in the region.