Sugar imports exhaust Kenya’s duty-free quota

By GERALD ANDAE

Kenya has almost exhausted its import quota for sugar from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) after increasing its imports to cover a local production deficit.

The Sugar Directorate reports that Kenya imported 201,530 tonnes of sugar in October against the 210,163 tonnes required, equivalent to 96 percent of the allocated quota.

In March, the Treasury slashed the amount of sugar that could be imported duty-free into Kenya from the Comesa countries by a third, as the government tried to contain the influx of sweetener following a outcry from farmers.

The Treasury said imports exceeding the set limit would result in tariffs of 100 percent, effectively shielding local farmers and sugar processors from rogue importers.

Kenya is grappling with a sugar supply shortage caused by production disruption after some of the millers in western Kenya went black.

That pushed the wholesale price of sugar up 23% in November, one of the biggest increases in recent months, with a 50kg bag selling for $ 54.3, from $ 44.27 previously.

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As a result, the consumer price of sugar fell from $ 2.01 to $ 2.36 for a two-kilogram packet.

Calls for audit

Kenya had previously been allowed to ship 300,000 tonnes of sugar per year from Comesa member states to prevent dumping of the goods into the country.

Kenya likely used up the new reduced quota in November, as the latest import data from the Sugar Directorate does not include the last two months of the year.

From January to October, traders imported at least 35,000 tonnes of sugar on average to meet local demand. Kenya produces 650,000 tonnes of sugar per year against a demand of 900,000 tonnes.

Two weeks ago, cane growers, through the Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association, requested a new audit of the country’s sugar deficit, saying outdated data on the shortage could facilitate volumes of sugar. higher imports at the expense of local producers.

Rachel J. Bradford