Return of free trade as Nairobi-Dar spat ends
Kenyan officials have announced the end of the long-running trade dispute with Tanzania following a bilateral meeting between the two states in Dar es Salaam.
The move will see Kenya-made goods such as textiles, which had been denied preferential access, get to the Tanzanian market with much ease.
Kenyan Trade PS Chris Kiptoo held talks with his Tanzanian counterpart Elisante ole Gabriel to resolve the standoff.
“The two partner states have called for effective and timely implementation of agreements made during bilateral meetings with a view to ease the flow of goods and services,” reads a joint communiqué.
Kenya’s textile products had been denied preferential access to the Tanzanian market with Dar arguing that the textiles are manufactured at the Export Promotion Zones (EPZs) and are not subjected to duty, hence cannot compete favourably with local products.
Tanzania also argued that the fact that Nairobi allowed manufacturers at the EPZs to offload their final textile products in the local market had hindered similar goods from Tanzania from being competitive in the Kenyan market.
Nairobi allows EPZ firms to sell up to 20 per cent of their products in the Kenyan market.
The meeting resolved that provisions of an East African Community (EAC) legal notice should be enforced to allow Kenya’s textile to enjoy preferential treatment.
According to the statement, immigration chiefs from the two sides will also meet to resolve border issues. It also directed the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Tanzania Revenue Authority to solve the challenges on the electronic Cargo Tracking system for Tanzanian cargo trucks.
Senior officials from Kenya and Tanzania will also jointly tour Lunga Lunga, Isebania and Namanga to familiarise themselves with the flow of trade at the border points.
Tanzania has been Kenya’s second largest market in the region after Uganda, providing an export market for a range of products that include palm oil, soap, medical drugs, cooking fats, iron sheets, sugar confectionery and margarine.
Kenya’s exports to Tanzania dropped 34 per cent in the first five months of the year to Sh4.35 billion raising concerns over negative impacts of the long-running trade standoff.