Kenya and Tanzania trade squabble may take longer than anticipated to be resolved

Representatives of the two countries, including officials from cross-border trade agencies, were expected to meet from Wednesday in Tanzania, according to an agreement reached on August 3.

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Tanzanian officials have postponed a meeting intended to iron out outstanding trade disputes with Kenya amid concerns Dar es Salaam was maintaining a hardline stance in the spat.

“I have just seen the note asking for a postponement to 9th September. We would review it and communicate the outcome. My technical team was ready including the private sector to begin these negotiations which had started on a positive note,”  Kenya’s principal secretary for trade Chris Kiptoo, who was also scheduled to meet his Tanzania counterpart Adolf Mkenda on Friday, said.

Despite a trade truce signed between Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahinga on 23rd July to lift trade restrictions between the two countries, it was not followed to the letter.

Kenya agreed to lift restrictions it had imposed on wheat flour and cooking gas imports from Tanzania, which in return committed to allow milk and cigarettes from Kenya.

However after the truce, Kenyan products still experienced various barriers which forced Mr. Kiptoo to travel to Namanga for the August 3rd meeting.

Kenya and Tanzania enjoy a frosty relationship mainly caused by their different market policies, which has been threatening the full realization of the East Africa Community.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli have had numerous discussions to iron out the impasse without success.

Until the spat, Tanzania had been Kenya’s second largest market in the region after Uganda, providing sales outlet for a range of products ranging from palm oil, soap, medical drugs, cooking fats, iron sheets, sugar confectionery, and margarine.

As a result of the trade restrictions, Kenya’s exports to Tanzania has dropped by 34 per cent in the first five months of 2017, to Sh4.35 billion ($42 million) raising concerns over negative impacts of the long running trade standoff.

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