Kenya fears sugar imports will suppress local industry

Kenyan millers say the import of duty-free sugar from Zambia and other countries can suffocate the local industry. In May, the Kenyan government permitted cheaper sugar imports without restrictions on quantity or specific importers to cushion the country’s deficit of more than 300 000 tons.

The move also allowed Kenya to accept sugar imports from outside the Common Market for Eastern and Central Africa (COMESA), further exposing the country to cheap imports.

The Zambian government is already facilitating the export of 40 000 tons of sugar to Kenya, a development that followed a recent trade mission led by Finance Minister Felix Mutati. This, and many other imports destined for Kenya, have shocked local producers.

“We have been surviving on COMESA safeguards for more than a decade. With these cheap imports, I don’t think we will survive,” a top manager at a state-owned sugar company told Kenya’s Daily Nation.

According to the paper, Kenya country experienced sugar shortages with old and debt-ridden mills standing idle for months. The price of sugar has also skyrocketed, with retailers selling it at US$3/kg.

Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) said the country’s sugar imports this year are expected to be as high as 300 000 tons.

Local media are reports that shiploads of sugar imports from various regions are headed to Mombasa.

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