Home | News    Friday 3 October 2003

Sudan to release Kenya tea held in port

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NAIROBI, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Sudan has agreed to release a consignment of 60,000 tonnes of Kenyan tea held at its main port, a Kenyan minister said on Friday.

Trade and industry minister Mukhisa Kituyi said the tea had been impounded at Port Sudan since July after failing to meet new import requirements.

Early this year Sudan said imported tea should arrive in 1.0 kg packages by the end of July.

Kenyan traders usually use bigger packets.

Kituyi said the government had asked Sudan to extend the deadline for compliance to the end of February 2004.

"Yesterday, the Sudanese government accepted to recede on their original decision and today they allowed all the tea that had piled up in Port Sudan to enter the country," Kituyi said.

Sudan was ranked fifth among Kenya’s tea importers in 2002, statistics from the Tea Board of Kenya show.

A total of 5.7 million kg of tea worth 516.7 million shillings ($6.59 million) were exported by Kenya to Sudan between January and June this year, the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) said.

Khartoum’s tea demand has waned in the past few weeks with Sudanese traders wary of buying more tea while stocks were still held up at Port Sudan.

Sudanese buyers had also stocked up on the commodity weeks ahead of the end-July deadline.

"Everybody tried to get enough tea before the ban, but the crisis (impounded tea) has contributed to low demand by Sudan. Nobody wanted to buy more if they had some sitting at the port," an official at EATTA said.

Sudan mainly imports a cross-section of Brokens, Fannings, and secondary teas via Kenya’s weekly tea auction held each Tuesday at the coastal resort city of Mombasa.

Tea is Kenya’s main export earner.

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