The Minister of Trade & Regional Integration, Gebremeskel Challa, has put a temporary embargo on all khat export contracts while his experts "redress problems in the registration of contracts." A letter last week notified the central bank, the Ministry of Revenues, and the Customs Commission of the suspension. The move comes barely two months after the Ministry revoked the licenses of 830 khat exporters following investigations. Last month, the Minister decreed that exporters must present contracts with overseas buyers before being permitted to send their goods abroad. There are close to 1,000 exporters registered at the federal level. Trade authorities claim an alarming growth in ‘illicit trade’, including over-invoicing practices, pushed them to enforce the restrictions. Khat has been among the top-five revenue-generating export commodities since the early 2000s. It accounted for 11pc of the 3.6 billion dollars generated in 2020/21, with over 710,000tn shipped to Djibouti and Somalia – the biggest buyers.
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