Kenya granted COMESA sugar safeguard extension

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PHOTO/COURTESY

The Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (COMESA) Council of Ministers has granted Kenya a two-year extension of sugar safeguard beginning March 2021 to February 2023.

 In its 41st meeting conducted virtually, the Council urged Kenya to share the modalities used in calculating its projected sugar deficit with other Member States by 30 November 2020.

Kenya had made a presentation of the sugar safeguard implementation progress through the COMESA technical committees and requested for a two years extension after the current one lapses in February 2021.

In its decision, the Council urged Kenya to give priority to COMESA originating sugar noting that the region produces enough to meet the deficit. The country will be allowed flexibility on the sugar safeguard allocated quota implementation during importation from COMESA Member States.

Kenya informed the meeting that all its factories are currently on production hence it expects an increase in available sugar for domestic consumption.

Other conditions given to Kenya were: to provide a detailed roadmap on how to enhance the sugar sector competitiveness during the extended safeguard period, ensure the import permit issuance process is transparent, fast and efficient; and provide the projected deficit in January of each year based on production and consumption data from ISO.

The Council also urged Kenya to disaggregate the World Customs Organization Harmonized System (HS Codes) for refined white sugar and mill white/brown sugar. The safeguard should only be applicable to mill white/brown sugar.

The Council similarly directed that any unavoidable full or partial suspension of COMESA quotas or of the East African Community import tariff for sugar, or interruption of preferential access established under this agreement, be preceded by prior consultation with affected parties. This should be done through the Kenya Safeguard Sub-Committee and includes a reasonable notice period of at least three months.

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