Kenya has decided to impose a 25% customs on Egyptian exports, in violation of the COMESA agreement.
The issue was raised with the 10th of Ramadan Investors Association, which has received complaints from factories in Egypt that their goods are accumulating in some African ports, including in Kenya.
It was noted that Kenya has nullified the work of the COMESA agreement, and is now obliging Egyptian companies to pay 25% in customs for the release of their goods. The Kenyan move contradicts the principles of the agreement.
Accordingly, the association, headed by Samir Aref, called on the Egyptian government, to accelerate the reactivation of the COMESA agreement. This would then open the way for Egyptian products moving to the 21 countries under COMESA, the largest economic grouping on the continent.
A total of nine COMESA member states signed, on 31 October 2000, an agreement to establish a free trade zone between them. These include Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Mauritius, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Malawi and Madagascar, and Rwanda, with Burundi joining the agreement in January 2004.
According to the agreement, member countries have put in place a complete exemption on customs duties decided upon mutual imports, provided that these products are accompanied by a COMESA certificate of origin.
Under the COMESA agreement, all Egyptian goods exported to member states enjoy complete exemption from all customs duties, fees and other taxes. These run according to the rates of reductions approved by each country, and on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.
Aref stressed the COMESA agreement’s importance to Egypt’s industry and its exports to other African countries.
He called on both Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry to quickly take the necessary measures towards guaranteeing the agreement’s application. This should be done to serve Egypt’s internal industry, and to avoid any negative impacts on local production and export.
The trade exchange between Egypt and COMESA countries stands at approximately $2.5bn. Egyptian imports from these countries do not exceed $1bn, as the trade balance records a surplus in Egypt’s favour.