Kenya and Tanzania enhance efforts to mend trade relations

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart, Augustine Mahiga. (Photo: File)

Senior government officials from Kenya and Tanzania have increased efforts to mend relations between the two countries that appear to deteriorate despite high-level meetings to ensure resumption of cross border trade.

Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo and his Tanzanian counterpart Adolf Mugenda have agreed to open up borders and do away with restrictive practices.

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Following talks held at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, representatives from both governments also agreed to form a joint committee that will smoothen the flow of goods between the countries.

“Kenya and Tanzania have agreed to conduct joint verification exercises which, once established, will see goods such as lubricants, edible oils, cement and textiles produced outside the Export Processing Zone uninhibited between the two countries,” Kenya’s industrialisation ministry said in a statement.

Lack of preferential treatment for certain goods produced in the region due to rules of origin and application of non-tariff barriers have seen trade between East Africa’s two leading economies plummet in the last two years.

Regular meetings

Dr Kiptoo and Prof Mugenda also underscored the significance of having regular bilateral meetings to discuss concerns and opportunities with a view of promoting trade for the mutual benefit of the two countries and its people.

“The two sides deliberated on concerns related to the retail sector, customs, freight forwarding, administrative bottlenecks and implementation of the East African Community directives including the Single Customs Territory System to hasten clearance of goods across the borders,” said the statement.

Mr Kiptoo said Tanzania is Kenya’s second largest export market in the EAC block and the sixth in the world.

“Kenya’s investment in Tanzania by 350 companies is worth over $1.5 billion and offers employment to about 50,000 people in that country,” he said.

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In late July, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Kenya and Tanzania met and greed to lift trade restrictions that the countries had placed on each other that greatly affected the flow of goods.

This was not fully implemented and companies have said they are still experiencing difficulties getting their products across the borders.

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