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Scrap metal dealers want export waiver

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2- Scrap metal dealers want the government to grant them a one-time export waiver to liquidate their stock piles.

The traders, through the Kenya Iron and Scrap Metal Association (KISMA) say their businesses have been affected by holding onto the stocks which they had purchased prior to the ban on the export of scrap metal.

"The metals include 5.3 thousand tonnes of copper, 500 tonnes of cast iron, 650 tonnes of stainless steel, 800tonnes of a mixture of brass and bronze and 500tonnes of radiators," said the Chairman Ishard Sumra in a petition to the Industrialisation Ministry.

The ban that was announced during the budget speech in 2009 to primarily curb vandalism, which costs the economy billions of shillings, was opposed by dealers and other stakeholders who argued that the move would result in job losses.

They argued that they would face stiff competition from Chinese and Asian businessmen who buy scrap metal including lead, in bulk for the export market.

The high demand for car batteries in China had fuelled a global demand for lead-acid battery manufacturing with entrepreneurs turning to Africa where recyclable lead is sold and categorized as scrap metal. 

Battery manufacturing was one of the sectors that was adversely affected as it could not compete with the high prices offered for lead and associated metals required by the foreign market.

However, Industrialisation Secretary Eng John Mosonik who received the petition underscored the importance of the ban as a necessary and legitimate tool to foster genuine industrial development in the country.

Although he did not commit himself, he promised that should East African Community member states confirm that no regional demand exists for the above category of scrap metals, Kenya would then seek a one-time window to enable the association dispose of its pile to the international market and cut its losses.

Kenya submitted a request on imposition of an export ban of scrap metals out of the region in order to support industries using scrap metals as source of raw materials and requested the ban should be extended to cover used automotive batteries, lead scrap, crude and refined lead and scrap of all kinds of metal.

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However, the government was urged to approach the issue cautiously.

Numerical Machining Complex CEO Eng. George Onyango said industries needed to be supported to absorb raw materials that are locally available and at sustainable costs in order to create more jobs for Kenyans.

Mr Onyango reiterated that the backbone of the developed economies is laid on the strength and inherent uses of iron and steel and once processed abroad, all the metals imported back were at exorbitant prices and an export of Kenyan jobs to the source markets.

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