Tanzania and Kenya have resolved ten more trade barriers in effort to grow the trade between the two member states of the East African Community (EAC).
President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited Kenya last May and met her counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta to mend the then deteriorating bilateral ties.
The two leaders ordered ministers and other officials to meet and discuss the issues.
Through the follow-up meetings, some 56 issues were reported to have been resolved in 2021, prompting the growth of trade between the two countries by 38 percent to $765 million in the same year, according to a communique of the latest meeting.
Last week, the ministers and other government officials met for the follow-up meeting where 10 more issues were resolved while 14 outstanding issues are expected to be resolved by June this year, according to the communique of the meeting held from March 9 -12.
“The meeting commended the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for their outstanding work in supporting this bilateral trade meeting. Further, the meeting called upon the MDAs to remain engaged in supporting the implementation of the commitments made in resolving trade-related issues,” the communique stated.
During the last week meeting, 30 issues were put forward for discussion and 10 of them were resolved – including six presented by Tanzania and four presented by Kenya.
The resolved issues presented by Tanzania include delay of clearance of goods due to scanning procedure; delays in issuance of import permits for dairy products; cumbersome procedures by the Kenya Revenue Authority; difficulties experienced by Taifa Gas Ltd in investing in Kenya; challenges in obtaining work for Tanzania professionals; and requirement of Covid-19 vaccination certificates for citizens of Tanzania to travel to Kenya by air.
The four issues presented by Kenya that were resolved include delayed response of codeshare by the Tanzania aeronautical authorities; denial of designation for Kenya’s Jambojet to operate passenger air services to Tanzania; restriction of free movement of engineers to Tanzania; and tour vans dropping tourists on the Tanzanian side of Namanga one-stop border post charged Sh5,000.
Kenya’s imports from Tanzania exceeded exports by nearly a third in nine months through September 2021, official statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shown, signaling thawing trade ties.
Nairobi posted a goods trade deficit of 29.97 percent, with Dar es Salaam — the first over the review period going by publicly available data— after traders doubled orders from the south-neighbouring country.
Kenyan traders and factories largely source cereals, wood, edible vegetables, animal fodder, paper and paperboard from Tanzania.
In March last year, the Kenya Revenue Authority suspended maize imports from Tanzania for allegedly having toxic elements, a move that sparked debate on social media. During that period Kenya also banned Ugandan maize.
The incident dropped 73 percent of the country’s maize exports, according to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Peter Manya, as hundreds of traders faced a shortage of foreign markets.
The director of policy, research and advocacy of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Anderw Mahiga, said the meetings were aimed at eliminating the inconveniences faced by traders in the country.
“We have received the resolutions well and in these meetings, we are fully involved in the search for solutions. These issues are normally reported by our membersand we see a positive trend in addressing them,” said Mr Mahiga.
Abbas Mwalimu, a diplomatic analyst said the move will enable the rapid opening of business interactions while boosting the economic situation of the citizens.
Mr Mwalimu advised the two governments to continue using the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to address the new challenges.