Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written to the Kenya High Commission protesting the seizures of Ugandan milk and milk products imported into Kenya.
The letter dated January 15, 2020, notes that Uganda was also importing a lot of Kenyan products but has not gone ahead to confiscate those goods that are also manufactured in the country.
The protest note can be looked as an escalation into the misunderstandings between the two countries over milk trade but also sets stage for a likely retaliation on the Ugandan side. Kenya says Uganda’s milk is flooding their market depressing local prices for the local farmers.
“The government of the Republic of Uganda protests the manner within which authorities in Kenya have continued to deliberately constrain and impose unwarranted restrictions on the smooth importation of Uganda’s milk and milk products into Kenya is deeply concerned on allegations that they are contraband, counterfeit and substandard,” the letter read.
Uganda says Kenya has so far confiscated of 54,310kg of powder milk valued at USD 203,630 (Shs753m) and 262,632 litres of UHT milk valued at USD 157,106 (Shs 581m).
But also, Kampala says, it has also witnessed a sustained negative campaign against Uganda’s milk and milk products “contravening the principle of good neighborliness and Kenya’s obligations under the Treaty establishing the East African community.”
Uganda says that one brand – Lato Milk processed by Pearl Dairy Ltd – was particularly targeted with seizures from authorized distributors of the brand to 11,310kgs of milk powder and 161,832 litres since the start of this year.
Kampala says it is further concerned about the unfounded claim by Kenya that the products from Uganda are counterfeit and yet they have been exported by known processors and being picked from warehouses.
“The ministry would like to recall that Uganda also has strategic sectors within her economy which experience high levels of imports from Kenya but has not taken the route Kenya has taken. Such sectors include Iron and steel, plastics, paper and paper board, soap, organic surface agents and detergents, animal and vegetable oil and fats; beverages and spirits,” the letter noted.
At the moment, the government of Uganda is exercising maximum restraint but reserves the right to reconsider this position, the letter added.
Last month, Kenyan officials visited Uganda to ascertain whether indeed the milk was coming from Uganda. They concluded that Kenya would be imposing a 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on Ugandan milk.
Uganda has seen its milk production grow tremendously with reforms in the dairy sector to 2.6 billion litres a year in 2018. At least 144 million litres are sold in Kenya every year, according to industry estimates. Kenyan companies like Brookside are big processors of milk exported there.