Kenya extends duty-free sugar imports to reduce prices

The National Treasury has extended the duty-free importation period for white and brown sugar from outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) by two months, reported Business Daily.

Originally set to close on April 6, 2024, the window has now been extended to June 30, 2024. This extension allows traders to import 250,000 tonnes of duty-free sugar to supplement local production and help reduce prices.

In a Gazette Notice, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u stated, “It is notified for the general information of the public that… the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Economic Planning has extended the period for the importation of 250,000 metric tonnes of white or brown sugar specified in Gazette Notice No. 14093 of 2023 dated October 13, 2023, from April 6, 2024, to June 30.”

The extension came after a request from Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, who cited a projected domestic sugar deficit of 192,000 tonnes for the first half of 2024 based on current local production trends.

Kenya had previously allowed traders to import 100,000 tonnes of duty-free sugar in January of last year and permitted an additional 180,000 tonnes in May. Due to a temporary four-month ban on local milling, local production declined, prompting the government in August to authorise the importation of 290,000 tonnes of sugar under the duty-free regime. This was followed by an additional allowance of 250,000 tonnes in October.

These sugar imports and a recovery in local production have led to a significant drop in sugar prices, which fell to Sh165 per kilogram in March from a high of Sh229 per kilogram in July of the previous year. During the same period, local sugar production more than doubled to 69,520 tonnes, up from 33,246 tonnes.


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