Small traders smell death in new import rule

Wednesday January 6 2016

Customers sample products on sale at the Nairobi County street trade fair on March 6, 2014.  Traders who import goods in small quantities are likely to be hard hit by a new rule by the Kenya Bureau of Standards requiring all cargo to be accompanied by a certificate of conformity. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Customers sample products on sale at the Nairobi County street trade fair on March 6, 2014. Traders who import goods in small quantities are likely to be hard hit by a new rule by the Kenya Bureau of Standards requiring all cargo to be accompanied by a certificate of conformity. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GITONGA MARETE
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Traders who import goods in small quantities are likely to be hard hit by a new rule by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) requiring all cargo to be accompanied by a certificate of conformity.

In order to address issues arising from substandard imports, Kebs is implementing the regulation, which came into effect on December 1, 2015, that will see all goods inspected and certified by its agents at the source markets.

On December 31, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) published a notice stating that from January 1, goods will not be accepted if unaccompanied by the document.

“Following the expansion of the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards programme to cover all imports destined to Kenya, KRA notifies both sea and air carriers that with effect from 1st January, only cargo that meets the requirements shall be accepted within Kenya,” the notice said.

SMALL QUANTITIES

On Tuesday, traders claimed it would be difficult to bring into the country goods that are imported in small quantities, with manufacturers preferring to deal with those buying in bulk.

“Items such as sewing machines are not consumed in huge quantities in the country. I import them from China and the manufacturers there are not ready to be subjected to such requirements for low value exports,” said an importer who declined to be named for fear that his identity would compromise his relations with KRA.

“There is the danger that such items which play an important role in the small and micro-enterprise sector will be rendered inaccessible by such a rule,” he added.

Initially, goods that had not been inspected would be subjected to a penalty of 15 per cent of their customs value. According to Ms Patricia Kimanthi, who is in charge of communications at Kebs, the agency is phasing it out.

“The 15 per cent fee was providing a loophole for entry of substandard goods into the country and we want to ensure that all goods are inspected to assure quality,” she said.

Mr Julius Musyoki, Commissioner Customs & Border Control at KRA said the rules would apply as directed and that in instances where cargo is shipped without CoC, the two agencies would intervene appropriately.