The issue of Kenyan authorities imposing customs duties on Egyptian exports to the country has been resolved, according to Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea.
The tariffs had been imposed on Egyptian products flowing into Kenya, in violation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Agreement.
Gamea noted that her ministry, represented by the Egyptian Commercial Service, undertook intensive negotiations with the East African Community (EAC) to resolve the issue. The negotiations saw an extension of the exemption granted to COMESA countries until 30 June 2021.
The minister added that the Egyptian Commercial Service in Kenya has coordinated with various governmental and non-governmental departments to urge the Kenyan authorities to abide by customs cuts under the agreement.
She said that many companies exporting to the Kenyan market have been significantly impacted by the unilateral decision by the authorities Kenya. The decision came in violation of the country’s obligations under the COMESA agreement and led to the stagnation of many Egyptian containers in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
Gamea also said that Kenya obtained an exemption from the EAC’s Ministerial Council to grant COMESA member states a comprehensive customs exemption for trade, pending the activation of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement. This would take place provided that Kenya applies this exception within a specific period that ended on 31 December 2019.
Heads of State and Governments under the COMESA, EAC and Southern African Development Community (SADC) met on 10 June 2015 in Sharm El-Sheikh, as part of the Third Tripartite Summit. They officially launched the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) at the summit, with the Agreement initially covering 26 member states across the three groupings.
Egyptian exports to Kenya recorded $416m in 2019. Egyptian exports include paper and its products, sugar, iron and steel products, machinery and electrical appliances, plastics, soap, detergents and cement, according to Egyptian Commercial Service head, Ahmed Maghawry.