Business Daily | 11 August 2020
US farmers push for free milk market access to Kenya in trade talks
By BRIAN NGUGI
US dairy farmers want unfettered access of their milk products to the Kenyan market in the proposed free trade agreement between Nairobi and Washington, which could have far-reaching implications on Kenya’s milk farmers.
Kenya recently introduced a 10 percent import levy on dairy products to protect the local industry from unfair competition.
But in a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regarding the trade negotiations, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said Kenya’s protectionist measures over its dairy sector limits US dairy’s ability to enter the Kenyan market.
IDFA is the representative body of the US’ dairy manufacturing and marketing industry.
“Currently, Kenya maintains its highest tariffs on a range of agricultural products, including dairy at an average of over 50 percent, because it considers dairy to be “sensitive” products and uses tariffs to stabilise domestic prices,” IDFA president and CEO Michael Dykes in a letter dated August 5.
“US negotiators should seek ambitious tariff reductions, including for protected dairy products in Kenya, while seeking a simplified, trade facilitative entry of US dairy imports into Kenya.”
Kenya and the US formally launched negotiations last month for a bilateral trade agreement that the two economies hope could serve as a model for additional agreements across the African continent.
After being a net importer of dairy products a decade ago, the US now claims a dairy trade surplus of more than $2 billion (Sh206 billion) and sends American dairy products to more than 140 countries.