Uganda-Kenya milk war boils over with no end in sight of regional trade tiffs
By MICHAEL WAKABI
The escalating trade dispute between Kenya and Uganda over milk exports, is just one of many facing all EAC partner states and underlines critical gaps in the regional integration project that could potentially harm the economies.
Dr Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of the Uganda Private Sector Foundation warns that unless resolved early, these trade tiffs could affect the region’s investment profile.
At a glance, Uganda’s trade with Rwanda is down to a trickle after a year-long of frosty relations; Tanzania has locked out Ugandan timber, sugar and maize; while Kenya, which has been open to imports of maize and beans from Uganda has been reluctant to open its market to manufactured products from Uganda and now even milk.
The South Sudan market, while open, still suffers from effects of conflict and insecurity.
Non-tariff barriers have intensified as member countries become competitors amid regional protocols that eliminate taxes on goods originating from within the economic bloc as conceived under the EAC Treaty.
“This is going to hurt the region at some point. Put yourself in the shoes of an investor who set up in the region because he heard the presidents and other bureaucrats say East Africa was a single market and investment destination, but then later finds that for unofficial reasons, he cannot access half of that market,’’ said Dr Badagawa.