Trade relations between Uganda and Kenya have encountered fresh challenges despite recent pledges by Presidents Yoweri Museveni and William Ruto to strengthen bilateral ties.

The ongoing discord centres on Uganda's dairy exports, with allegations of regulatory barriers hindering cross-border trade.

During President Museveni's visit to Nairobi last month, both leaders emphasized adherence to East African Community protocols to bolster economic cooperation.

However, reports from Uganda indicate a stark contrast to these diplomatic aspirations.

Uganda's dairy sector, crucially reliant on the Kenyan market, faces mounting obstacles such as export permit denials and trade bans.

Brookside Limited, a major player in Uganda's dairy industry owned by Kenya's Brookside Dairy, finds itself significantly impacted.

According to Benson Mwangi, General Manager of Brookside Limited, the company has been frustrated by the denial of 114 export permits since March last year.

This has severely constrained their ability to export long-life milk products, including powdered and UHT processed milk, to Kenya.

Speaking to the media in Kampala, Mwangi expressed initial optimism following the presidential meeting, viewing it as a potential breakthrough for longstanding trade barriers.

However, he lamented the continued lack of response from the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) regarding their pending permit applications.

"We remain hopeful that KDB will soon implement the commitments made by the heads of state, enabling us to resume exports," Mwangi stated optimistically.

Uganda's dairy sector has historically relied on Kenya as its primary export market, but recent trade restrictions have prompted Kampala to seek alternative markets in North and West Africa.

The situation underscores the delicate nature of regional trade relations within the East African Community, where political pledges often diverge from regulatory realities.

Efforts to reach KDB for comment on the permit issue were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

The persistence of trade tensions despite high-level diplomatic engagements highlights the complexities involved in translating political goodwill into tangible economic benefits for both nations.

As stakeholders await developments, the future of Uganda-Kenya trade relations hangs in the balance, influenced by regulatory decisions that could either alleviate or exacerbate existing trade grievances.