Kenya: You Are Safe From British Farm Goods, Farmers Told

Finished agricultural product imports from the United Kingdom will attract a 25 percent duty under the Kenya-UK trade pact as the government moves to protect farmers from unfair competition from cheap European produce.

Trade Principal Secretary Johnson Weru said the government has listed over 1,000 items from the UK that will attract duty, allaying fears that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with UK will affect small scale farmers who cannot compete with foreign goods.

"The Kenya government has listed over 1,000 items from UK that will attract a 25 percent import duty with most being agricultural produce to protect local farmers from unfair competition," said the PS.

He, however said importation of raw material such as sugar beet for processing in the country will not attract duty, after sugar millers raised concern that shipping in of the finished sweetener will hit farmers.

Rai Group chairman Jaswant Rai said sugarcane farmers cannot compete with cheap beet sugar--of which the UK is the largest producer--which is on the list of the items that will access the local market.

Advocacy groups

A section of small scale farmers and advocacy groups went to court to challenge the implementation of the Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement citing lack of public participation.

MPs last week also took issue with a clause in the EPA agreement that bars Parliament from amending or expressing reservations on the pact.

Read: MPs refuse to ratify trade pact between Kenya and UK

At a meeting with various stakeholders and Trade ministry officials on Thursday, the MPs claimed that the clause in the EPA erodes the country's sovereignty and demanded that Parliament be allowed to either amend or express reservation on the trade deal.

At the same time, Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has urged MPs to endorse the Kenya-UK trade pact saying failure to do so would see Kenya lose the market for fresh produce worth Sh40 billion.

She said last week in Meru County that the pact ensures Kenyan fresh produce such as French beans and snow peas are exported to the UK market duty free

gandae@ke.nationmedia.com

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