Kenya-Uganda milk trade dispute should not be allowed to boil over
SEE ALSO :Uganda protests over milk seizureThe protest letter by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a veiled threat, reminds Kenya’s High Commissioner that Kenya exports products to Uganda and its companies have never received such treatment. The situation should not be left to escalate to a point where Uganda retaliates. Trade wars have been found to be costly to citizens, businesses and economies. This would not just hurt the common folk in both countries, but could also regress the little progress that EAC has made in the nearly two decades since it was resuscitated. Uganda remains the largest export destination for Kenyan products, and thus, while the claims of smuggling milk products are serious and should be investigated, there is also a case for guarding the relations between the two countries to deepen trade. We had a similar situation with Tanzania not too long ago, in which a lot was lost. That goes to show how much harm can be done when neighbours feud. In the ‘war’ with Tanzania, businesses and people from both sides of the border suffered, to the extent that Kenya traded more with countries that are thousands of kilometres away, while exports to its neighbour stagnated and in some cases, declined. However, trading between the two countries has resumed and there are indications it is growing. Clearly, there should be deliberate efforts to ensure that this continues to grow. We should go back to the rules that guide the trading relationship in the East African Community, such as the common protocol. If the EAC experiment must work, the playing-ground should be levelled for all the players.
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