Mr. Peter Munya said the change in the proposed policy was informed by the need not to block the middle class from the car market.
“You (will) continue to import vehicles that are eight years old if they are 1,500 cc. That will not change, for now,” Mr Munya said in an interview with Citizen TV.
The change signals that the government has softened its stance on the proposed rule, which had generated heated debate among players in motor vehicle sales.
In a letter dated December 20, 2018, to Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya directed the regulatory body to draft legal amendments lowering the age limit and raising allowable exhaust emission standards for all vehicle imports.
“Be advised that government has already committed itself to developing a National Automotive Policy Framework and at the same time, review the emission levels and age limit on imported used motor vehicles from the current eight (8) years to five (5) years effective July 2019,” Mr Munya wrote in a December 20, 2018 letter to Kebs.
Had the proposal seen the light of day, it would have resulted in a steep increase in prices of cars.
However, the trade secretary was quick to point out that those who want to import vehicles with higher-capacity engines "will be able to absorb the impact of higher prices and taxes" on the five-year models.
They will also have the choice of buying smaller cars if they become price-sensitive.
Among the models that will benefit from maintaining the status quo are Mazda Demio, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Vitz, Nissan Note and Toyota Rush.
A vehicle manufactured in 2012 is the oldest that can be imported into the country this year based on the current eight-year age limit but the change to five years means the year of manufacture will be 2015 onwards.
On Thursday, Industry and Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that contrary to their earlier announcement cars with engine capacities of 1.5 litres and below will now be spared from the plan to reduce the age limit of vehicle imports from eight to five years starting July.