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Kenya: Glass Makers Hit By Cheap Imports

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Kenyan glass manufactures Kenyan glass manufacturers Milly Glass Works and Consol Glass Kenya are blaming their drop in business to EAC and Comesa trade agreements that have opened the doors to cheap products that have flooded the market.

The two companies, together with Kioo Ltd in Tanzania, are the only three glass container and tableware manufactures in the region. The Kenyan companies say an unfavourable business environment is exposing Kenya’s glass industry to cheap imports from Egypt and Tanzania.

If Kenya signs a pending trade deal with South Africa, it will sound the death knell for glass manufacturing in the country the manufacturers say. The agreement will increase South African exports to Kenya and other EAC states.

Misr Glass Manufacturing Company, an Egyptian firm which is a major exporter to Kenya, has been receiving government subsidies, lowering the costs of its products.

“Milly Glass Company and Consol Glass Kenya have the capacity to produce enough for the market, but we are losing out. Our customers can now import directly from abroad,” said Milly Glass managing director Mohamed Rashid. “We manufacture 12 million tonnes of glass per month. More than six million tonnes are imported against the country’s demand of nine million tonnes of glass per month, leaving us with dead stock. Our customers opt to import cheap glass where our competitors receive tax relief and the cost of labour and wage is low compared with Kenya.”

Mr Rashid said the only recourse will be to relocate to another country.

“Apart from supplying our local market, we are also targeting the Africa Continental Free Trade Area which becomes operational in January next year,” Mr Rashid said.

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