1Kenya has formally asked Sudan to reverse its decision to reduce the shelf-life of Kenyan tea from three to one and a half years.

Kenya made the demand on Sunday at a meeting between  foreign ministry officials from both countries known as the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC), in Khartoum.

During the meeting, the delegation led by Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed argued the decision means Kenyan traders will incur more costs in storage and make losses if they don’t make sales on time.

The Sudanese government in 2004, made changes to the rules governing trade in tea where it required exporters to first seek certificates of origin to determine the tea had actually come from Kenya.

There was another rule that tea brought into Sudan must be sold within one and a half years, a move  Sudanese authorities argued would help adhere to restrict health standards.

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Kenya at the time routinely asked for more time to help local traders implement the rules. On Sunday, Ms Mohamed met with Foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour during the 9th Session of JMC when the matter came up.

“The two requirements have regulatory and procedural requirements that will result in increased costs and temporary implications. Kenya requested the government of Sudan to suspend these requirements,” say minutes of the meeting between the two delegations.

The Sudan Standards and Metrology Organisation (SSMO) ordered a reduced shelf-life of tea, a decision  the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) protested at the time. In letter to the SSMO, Kebs argued the move was unilateral and there had been no communication on whether Kenyan tea had violated quality standards despite the two agencies having an MoU to cooperate on matters quality.

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“In the spirit of the MoU between SSMO and Kebs, there is need for the elimination of technical barriers to trade between the two parties… Kenya requests for the withdrawal   of the imposition of one and a half years as the shelf-life until further consultations are held,” the Kenyan officials argued, according to the minutes

It’s not clear when the rules will be withdrawn as both sides only agreed to consult.

By AGGREY MUTAMBO #DailyNation

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