Kenya, Sudan sign deal to boost tea trade
20 May 2016, 18:55
Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Kenyan and Sudan's standards bodies on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at facilitating tea trade, Kenyan officials said.
Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS) Managing Director Charles Ongwae told a media briefing in Nairobi that the agreement was necessitated by Sudan's introduction of stricter measures of Kenyan tea imports in 2015.
"Under the agreement, Sudan has agreed to suspend for six months the requirement that all Kenya must have a shelf life of two years," Ongwae said, adding that Kenya and Sudan will commence a four-year tea shelf life study in June.
Ongwae said that the suspension of shelf life requirement will be renewed after six months for one year based on the preliminary results of the study.
"Depending on the results of the study, the suspension of the shelf life requirement will be renewed annually until 2020," he said.
Ongwae said that both countries have agreed to resolve the technical barrier to tea trade in an amicable way. The two nations signed a MOU on tea trade in 2005, but has not been implemented.
Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organization (SSMO) Deputy Director General Zakaria Suliman said that under the new agreement, all Kenyan tea exported to Sudan will undergo a pre-shipment inspection by an international surveyor for tea.
"This will ensure that tea products that enter Sudan meet Sudanese standards," he said.
According to SSMO, the two nations will also form a Joint Technical Committee to resolve all emerging tea issues in order to ensure smooth flow of trade.
Kenya's Agriculture Food and Fisheries Authority Manager for Tea regulations and Compliance Samuel Njane said that Kenya exports tea to over 60 countries.
"In order to safeguard Kenya's tea industry, we will ensure that all tea products consumed locally and international meet stringent safety standards," Njane said.
Kenya's tea exports to Sudan have been declining in the recent past.
Njane said that Kenya exported approximately 28 million kilograms of tea to Sudan in 2014 while in 2015 the figure reduced to 20 million kgs.
He said that the MOU with Sudan will help to reverse the declining trend in tea trade.