zambia’s trade wars with kenya misguided

The fear of Kenyan big business is not limited to the East African Community. Zambia is the latest country to impose non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) against Kenya. The Southern African nation banned imports of dairy products from Kenya. Lusaka is also involved in a spat with Nairobi over palm oil based cooking oil. Both countries are members of the regional trading bloc COMESA. Thankfully, Kenya has not reciprocated any of Zambia’s misguided sanctions.

Lusaka should realize that the only people who benefit from protectionist policies are inefficient business owners who should be allowed to experience Schumpeterian creative destruction. Ordinary people at the supermarkets and kiosks just want cheap goods. Period.

Kenya’s Business Daily reports:

“We will not allow any milk imports from Kenya because it will negatively affect the growth of our dairy industry,” Mr Machila told the Times of Zambia last Thursday as Comesa moved closer to delivering its verdict on the five-year dispute.

Industrialist Vimal Shah, whose company Bidco Oils is the largest producer of cooking oils in Eastern Africa, says lack of clarity on Zambian demands remains the biggest obstacle to trade between the two nations. “Zambian authorities have remained shadowy with regards to the palm oil-based products and we don’t understand what they exactly want,” he said. “We have had several missions come around to verify whether such products are done locally but they never produce any confirmation reports.” Zambia is however known to prefer local production of cooking oils to help generate employment and tax benefits.

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