That the government is prepared to address Britain’s grievances over the impending ban on used buses and trucks is laudable.
The protest by the UK arises from a notice issued in April by the Kenya Bureau of Standards freezing, among others, importation of used vehicles more than seven metres in length from July 2022. Trucks with load capacities of 3.5 tonnes and above were also banned.
The government hopes its implementation would stimulate demand for locally assembled commercial vehicles, spurring job creation and boosting tax collection.
The changes were frozen pending the determination of a petition in court. But the UK fears the embargo will cut the flow of its used commercial vehicles, which form part of its supplies to Kenya, including machinery, pharmaceuticals and electronics.
Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina says the matter will be handled by the Kenya-United Kingdom Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Council. The team is made up of ministerial representatives from both countries tasked with ensuring smooth implementation of the trade deal, which came into force in March 2021.
However, it should not be lost on the Kenyan team that the industry supports a whole network of businesses, from local assemblers to dealers and garages.
Therefore, the team must protect the interest of the local industry while taking care not to prompt an escalation of the differences between Kenya and Britain that could affect the flow of goods between the two countries. Kenya exports tea, cut flower and fresh vegetable to the UK.