Kenya, South Sudan sign MOU to revive tea trade
Kenya has together with Sudan government agreed to re-activate an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tea that they had signed in 2005.
This follows Sudan Standards and Metrology ( SSMO) introducing new regulations concerning final conformity of documentation for imports in October last year that raised some concerns with the Kenya Tea Industry.
Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) through the Foreign affairs and International trade had requested for negotiations as a means of removing technical barriers to tea , a major commodity traded by the two countries as encompassed in the existing MOU between KEBS and SSMO.
Speaking on Wednesday evening at the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) offices during the wrap up meeting, KEBs Managing Director Charles Ongwae said the two parties further agreed to expedite tea trade by undertaking conformity assessment for tea exports to Sudan.
“We have subsequently together agreed to conduct a joint study on the Shelf life of tea to determine the length of time tea quality remains within acceptable limits under Sudanese Environmental conditions,” said Ongwae.
He added that the initiation date of study which will take four years will be 1st June 2016 and targeted completion date May 31st 2020.
“Temporary measures because of this are that suspension of shelf life requirement will be renewed after the first 6 months for one year based on results of the study,” added the KEBs MD.
He noted that reactivation of existing MOU in areas of nomination of a joint technical committee, will be done by 30th of June this year, developing a training program and Reciprocal Technical visits/ information sharing will be done annually while a technical training in inspection and quality assurance will be done within July and August this year.
On conformity Assessment Framework, the MD said any tea shipment going to Sudan will have to be assessed and be accompanied by a KEBS certificate of conformity.
Kenyan Ambassador to Sudan, Hon Aaron Suge said that following a meeting that took place in Khartoum between the two parties in April 2016 and agreement to start negotiations have borne fruits.
He added that the visit to Kenya from Sudan delegation to the countries tea value chain has resulted in reaching amicable solutions to the concerns by SSMO.
“We cannot however dispel with the SSMO standards and as Kenya we have to maintain this since Sudan has been taking our tea since 1930s,” said Ambassador Suge.
Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan to Kenya Elias El Sadique said he was happy that the delegation had a good hand on idea on the tea value chain in Kenya .
He noted that one year ago Kenyas tea exports to Sudan was at 27 million but right now has gone down to 20 million because of technical and crippling issues affecting the industry.
“We need to promote commodity fostering and strengthen trade in our two countries and this can only be done with good relations between the players of the tea industry and also through political will,” said Ambassador Sadique.
Solomon Odera from AFFA said Sudan is the second largest African market of Tea after Egypt and in 2015 alone they consumed 20 million Kgs of Teas from Kenya.
Over the last five years, Sudan has consumed over 29 million kilogrammes of our tea at Ksh 24 billion shillings.
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