By Frank Kamuntu
The Ugandan government has criticised Kenya’s move to impose restrictions on its milk products.
In a letter from the Foreign Affairs ministry dated January 16, Uganda protested what it described as “illegal” seizure of Lato milk on the basis of its being contraband, counterfeit and substandard.
Detectives from the Anti-contraband and counterfeit goods unit on Saturday nabbed six lorries in Uasin Gishu county ferrying Lato milk believed to have been illegally exported into the country.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs ministry said the Kenyan government impounded 43 tonnes of Ugandan milk powder on January 2, 21,600 litres of milk on January 7 and 79,200 liters on January 11.
On Wednesday, newly appointed Agriculture CS Peter Munya ordered New KCC to pay farmers Shs33 per litre for their milk.
Uganda said the Kenyan government seized its authorised Lato milk powder totaling to 11,310kg and 161,832 litres of milk on January 11, 2020.
The Ugandan authorities said its products were seized even after being cleared for entry by Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture.
“The ministry is further concerned about the unfounded claim by Kenya that the products are counterfeit, yet they were exported by Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd, who are the registered owners of ‘Lato’ Trade Mark, and Brands are being picked from warehouses of authorised distributors,” part of Ugandan Foreign Affair’s statement read.
Uganda further dismissed allegations that the bilateral meeting held between the two countries on December 19, 2019, agreed on imposing 16 per cent VAT on Ugandan milk.
It added that by doing so, the Kenyan government went against Article 15 of the Protocol Establishing the East African Customs Union on National Treatment which states that the partner state shall not impose on each other’s products internal taxation.
The ministry ordered Kenya to immediately release the seized consignments of Lato branded milk, adding they were duly cleared for entry.
It also demanded a seizure of any operation targeting Ugandan manufactured milk in Kenya and to refrain from any actions against Uganda’s exports to Kenya.
The Kenyan government has also been told to take full responsibility for any spoilage of the seized products.
It has also asked Kenyan government to “address any trade concerns within the existing EAC and bilateral frameworks rather than using arbitrary means that could jeopardise the otherwise blossoming trade relations between the two countries”.
The complaint comes as milk traders face competition due to cheap products from Uganda.
Last year, traders in Busia border point said they were handling more Ugandan milk and eggs after the prices of local commodities increased.