Despite the much mooted co-operation brought about by the construction of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET)regime, Kenya has decided to opt out of tariff-freeflow of some goods into the country. Included in the list are leather shoes, a major source of currency for both Kenya and its East African neighbours.
Kenyan authorities say they are concerned that cheap leather imports from surrounding countries (which include Ethiopia and Tanzania) are hindering the growth of local manufacturers, exporters and retailers. As a result, exemptions on leather and certain other goods have been waived to ensure ‘fair play’.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) chief manager in charge of Policy Kariuki Githigi said “These are decisions guided by consensus and that is why Kenya chose to reverse the decision. We have, however, secured various stays in the last negotiations meant to keep our local manufacturers protected from any cheap imports.”
Kenya Association of Manufacturers chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said the move will be a major boost for local manufacturer. “This is a welcome move, which is expected to increase the production capacity for local companies and stimulate demand for the end products. It will promote manufacturers and allow them to import raw materials that are not available in the region at a lower rate,” Ms Wakiaga said.
The EAC was set up in order to boost intra-regional trade. However, cheap imports from China and India, has led to member countries – in particular Kenya and Tanzania - squabbling over tariffs for certain key industries, especially leather.