Tanzania and Kenya take another stab at solving prolonged trade squabble

In a joint communique issued in Mombasa, the two countries are to release a report Thursday on agreements to eliminate non-tariff barriers to enhance inter-regional trade.

In a joint communique issued in Mombasa,  the two countries  through their respective trade officials said they had agreed to resolve their differences and address barriers hindering trade between the two countries and wil release a report Thursday on agreements to eliminate non-tariff barriers to enhance inter-regional trade.

“Already we have been able to resolve movement of wheat, milk and LPG products. All those are now moving across the borders without any problem. To make sure that we improve our inter-regional trade we have decided that we are going to do away with the barriers,” said International Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo.

This followed a meeting at Sarova Whitesands Hotel  chaired by Dr. Kiptoo and his Tanzanian Industry, Trade and Investment counterpart Elisante ole Gabriel to iron out the trade rows that had threatened to worsen relationships between the two neighbouring states.

Despite months of negotiations which included personal discussions between presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and John Pombe Magufuli followed by a trade truce signed between Former Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahinga on 23rd July to lift trade restrictions between the two countries, nothing much has been forthcoming and the truce fell apart before the ink could even dry.

Kenya banned the importation of cooking gas from Tanzania in April 2017, after the ministry of energy said the move was meant to curb the proliferation of illegal filling plants and Tanzania banned importation of milk from Kenya in retaliation.

Ever since trade volume between the two neighbours has been on a downward spiral, hurting economies and populations alike.

After the meeting, the two trade officials said the two countries have agreed to allow importation and exportation of commodities between them.

Dr Kiptoo said bilateral talks held between the representatives of the two countries agreed to have exchange programmes to improve movement of goods.

“We have also agreed that we shall be visiting our borders to meet the wananchi there and deal with some of the problems that they have so that we can enhance the environment for trade between our two countries,” he added.

Prof Gabriel on his hand said the two nations will do away with “unnecessary taxation” of goods.

He added that Kenya and Tanzania will have an elaborate programme of dealing with challenges they face in regard to trade.

“In every government there must be disagreements but we do not want the unnecessary differences which can be dealt with. We are on a mission to upgrade our industries and agreed to make our citizens develop interest in ethnocentrism,” said Prof Gabriel.

The two also downplayed recent differences between the two  nations following the auctioning of more than 10,000 cattle and incinerating of 6,400 Kenyan-sourced chicks by the Tanzanian authorities.

Whether the deal will hold this time round only time will tell.

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