A diplomatic row is simmering between Kenya and Uganda following a move by Kenyan officials to impound more than Sh36 million worth of milk products imported from the latter.
Uganda is accusing Kenya of violating the East African Community (EAC) protocol by impounding 43,000kgs of milk powder and 262,632 litres of the Lato milk brand, owned by Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd.
“The Government of the Republic of Uganda protests the manner in which authorities in Kenya have continued to deliberately constrain and impose unwarranted restrictions on the smooth importation of Uganda’s milk and milk products into Kenya and is deeply concerned about the illegal seizure of Ugandan-made milk under the Lato brand by authorities in Kenya on allegations that they are contraband, counterfeit and sub-standard,” said Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a letter sent to the Kenya High Commission in Kampala yesterday.
Uganda said the seizure was carried out illegally from Lato distributors in Kenya despite having been cleared by authorities in both countries, and no documentary justification was given to Pearl Dairy Farms.
“The ministry would like to note that the illegal seizures were executed despite the fact that the goods had been cleared for entry by the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Dairy Board, Kenya Bureau of Standards and Port Health Services,” said the letter.
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It said the ministry was concerned about the unfounded claim by Kenya that the products were counterfeit and yet were being picked from the warehouses of authorised distributors, with no documents issued when the products were seized. Uganda now wants Kenya to release the impounded milk products, cease any operations specifically targeting their milk and compensate Pearl Dairy Farms for any losses suffered.
“The ministry would like to recall that Uganda also has strategic sectors within her economy which experience high levels of imports from Kenya but has not taken the route Kenya has taken,” the letter said.
“At the moment the Government of Uganda is exercising maximum restraint but reserves the right to reconsider this position.”
This is the latest of several disputes between EAC member states that has raised concern over deteriorating trade relations in the regional trading bloc.