A high powered Kenyan ministerial delegation, including the Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Finance Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the Minister of Agriculture, was in the country yesterday to negotiate for the reduction of tariffs on sugar imported from Kenya under the East African Community Customs Union arrangement.
The two pleaded their case during an EAC partner states consultative meeting held yesterday in Kigali which was also attended by other finance ministers from the region.
These were, Rwanda’s Finance Minister James Musoni, Tanzania was represented by Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Mustafa Mkuko, while Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Syda Bbumba, represented her country.
They acceded to the East African Customs Union, which makes the regional bloc a free trade area, with guaranteed preferential rates for all partner states.
In an interview MINCOFIN’s Permanent Secretary, John Rwangombwa, said that the proposal presented by Kenya calls for a periodic waiver of tariffs exerted on sugar exports by Kenya to the region.
“Kenya has presented a request to have tariffs on sugar reduced, the ministers agreed to have that proposal presented to the Sectoral Committee for further consideration,” said Rwangombwa.
Sugar is ranked as one of Kenya’s leading exports to the region.
According, to Rwangobwa, should the secretariat accede to the forwarded proposal by Kenya, then sugar tariffs across partner states will be reduced or waived for a period of time, however until then, the existing tariffs still stand.
Rwangobwa revealed that the ministers also tabled the implementation of the Common Market Union expected to be launched early next year.
In another significant development, following the successful establishment of the EAC Customs Union, the EAC secretariat has set up a series of preliminary consultations among the partner states, to pave way for the establishment of the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) slated for 2012.
The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Alloys Mutabingwa, led a series of consultative meetings that began in Tanzania on Sunday and are expected to move to Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda and before ending in Burundi later this month.