UK downplays tough export rules

November 5, 2008

, NAIROBI, November 5 – The British government has downplayed the stringent requirements that Kenyan horticulture farmers face when exporting their products into the United Kingdom.

British High Commissioner Rob Macaire said on Wednesday that his government supports fair trade practices and it is keen to support the industry in Kenya. Horticultural exports from Kenya contribute close to Sh70 billion annually and support over one million persons.

“The (British) government always takes a strong pro-free trade position. There’s a very healthy market in the UK for Kenya and elsewhere in the European Union for Kenyan produce and that can be seen by the large volumes of flowers, fruits and vegetables coming into the EU,” maintained the envoy.

Kenya, which is the second largest supplier of cut flowers to the UK (after Netherlands) has been battling discriminative limitations on its exports such as the carbon foot print legislation and the proposed ban on air-flown organic produce.

On their part, local industry players have suggested the development of a standard system that enables businesses to identify their carbon footprints and for goods to be labelled according to their own carbon miles to enable consumers to make an informed decision about what they buy. 
Speaking during the opening of the three-day exhibition that brings together industry players from the Eastern and Central African region, Macaire said the participation of British companies in the fair was proof of his government and its people’s support for the sector and they would continue to invest in it.

“Its good to see a strong British delegation have shown the confidence that they’ve got in the industry and bringing the products that will help add value to the sector,” he enthused about a group of eight British companies, which were led by the UK’s Commercial Horticultural Association (CHA), that supply horticultural products and service all over the globe.

Macaire said the delegation of the suppliers would be looking to increase further links with their Kenya counterparts adding that this part of his government’s initiative to increase trade between the two countries and promote the increased inward investment that is vital to Kenya’s economy following the post election chaos.

UK is the largest bilateral foreign investor in Kenya with investments valued at Sh304billion. The balance of trade is in favour of Kenya with her exports to the UK market valued at Sh29billion against UK are worth Sh24.3billion.

CHA Secretary Chris Wood said they would be exchanging views on the challenges they face and how to address them.

He told reporters that the sector players in Europe were trying to reduce the amounts of agro-chemicals used on the crops as they had realized that biological control was important.

Wood lauded Kenya for using organic methods and urged farmers in other countries to emulate the East African nation.

“This should be emphasized because this is how you get user friendly, environmentally friendly and quality produce,” he added.

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