Trade experts at the recently concluded UN talks have weighed in on the influx of fish from China.
Delegates at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that was held in Nairobi told the country to apply anti-dumping laws or invest heavily in the fish industry to reduce fish imports from China.
The discussion comes in the wake of revelations that despite the availability of local, regional and international markets for Kenyan fish and fish products, the local traders have been importing unprocessed fish from China.
UNCTAD’s director of international trade in goods and services and commodities, Guillermo Valles, and the multilateral trade expert Morgan Githinji said Kenya has two options in dealing with cheap imports from overseas: improve the local market, thereby raising tariffs on imports, or ban the imports through policy rules.
“The situation that Kenya is facing could be addressed perhaps by Kenya raising the standards of its goods to deter the importation of the cheap ones. Invest heavily in the fish industry and make it more competitive. This will help protect the local industry,” Mr Valles said.
A trade expert at the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), Mr Githinji added: “Kenya is a member of the World Trade Organisation [WTO] and, therefore, cannot impose a ban on fish imports. But if it finds that the fish is being dumped or being sold at subsidised rates, then it can employ the anti-dumping rules.”
Under WTO agreements, if a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges in its own home market, it is said to be ‘dumping’ the product.
Typically, anti-dumping action includes charging extra import duties on the product to bring its price closer to the normal value.
Kenya has a coastline in excess of 2,000 nautical miles, as well as several inland water bodies. Yet, imported frozen tilapia from China is being sold in huge volumes at the Kisumu retail fish market.