, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – Kenya has been granted a one-year extension of sugar import limits from the regional trade bloc Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to revamp its ailing sugar industry.
The arrangement was to expire in February 2016.
The extension will operate on the basis of the terms and conditions set out in Directive No. 1 of 2007.
These included privatizing state owned mills, doing research into new early maturing and high sucrose content sugar cane varieties and adopting them, paying farmers on the basis of sucrose content instead of based on weight, maintaining the safeguard as a tariff rate quota with the quota increasing while the above quota tariff falls until it reaches zero percent.
It also includes maintaining and providing infrastructure like roads and bridges in the sugar growing areas.
The COMESA Policy Organs meetings are taking place in Lusaka, Zambia, where Kenya is represented by Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed as the Minister responsible for International Trade covering COMESA.
Speaking in Lusaka, Mohamed said this is a big win for Kenya but also a call for fast- tracking of the reforms in the sugar sector.
Kenya’s application was based on Article 61 of the COMESA Treaty that provides for safeguard measures for domestic industries need protection against international competition until they become mature and stable.
Kenya’s sugar industry faces high production costs and loss-making sugar factories, which produce a total of 600,000 tonnes of sugar a year, below the annual consumption of 800,000 tonnes.