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Trade war looms as Kebs blocks Italian spaghetti

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The spaghetti row may strain relations. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has blocked entry of Italian pasta like spaghetti in a blockade that could trigger a trade dispute between Nairobi and Italy.

Kenyan Foreign Ministry and the Italian Embassy in Nairobi have been dragged into the pasta importation row when Kebs rejected a consignment that was tested by its own agent, SGS-Italy, ahead of shipment.

The standards body refused to re-test the products as requested by the Kenyan importer, Luna Foods Stuff Limited, who offered to foot the costs, insisting that the sampling and testing was done procedurally.

Kebs has since ordered the reshipment of the consignment despite SGS-Italy issuing a pre-export verification of conformity (PVOC) giving the cargo a clean bill of health.

Ferrara, a leading Italian pasta company that sold the consignment to Kenya, in a letter to Kebs and copied to Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Italian Embassy in Nairobi warns that the dispute has the potential of souring business relations between these countries.

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“Should the container be reshipped back [sic] to Italy, we fear it will not only sour our business relations with Luna Foods Stuff Limited who are one of our esteemed customers but also our brand name which has been established since 1983,” the Italian firm warned.

“This could also go as far as severing relations between the two countries labelling Italy as an exporter of sub-standard food products to Kenya.”

Kenya imported goods worth Sh19.8 billion from Italy in the nine months to September, and exported Sh3.2 billion worth of products to the European nation. Italy is the largest producer of pasta.

Ferrara accuses Kebs of deliberately sitting on an appeal by Luna Food Stuff, the importer of the pasta lodged on November 14, 2018 to have the products re-tested on grounds of anomalies.

“However, there has been no communication from Kebs as of November 14, 2018 to date and we feel this is deliberately being done to tarnish our brand, country and the entry of our products into the Kenyan market,” the Italian firm said in the letter.

But in a response dated December 20, 2018, Kebs claimed that the consignment tested by SGS Italy failed to conform to local requirements on protein content. “In view of the above failures that rendered the goods substandard, the shipment was rejected and you were directed to re-ship the consignment back [sic] to the country of origin,” Immaculate Odwori said in a letter signed for director of Quality Assurance and Inspection.

“Your request for resampling and re-testing has been given due consideration and it is our opinion that sampling and testing was done procedurally.”

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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