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Tanzania blocks 20 kenyan companies escalating crisis

By Moses Michira | Published Fri, July 28th 2017 at 00:00, Updated July 27th 2017 at 23:02 GMT +3
Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed with her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahiga after holding talks in Nairobi last week where a deal lifting restrictions was brokered. [File, Standard]

IN SUMMARY

  • Kenya had promised to lift restrictions on wheat flour coming in from Tanzania ­
  • Tanzania had committed to reciprocate by lifting the ban on milk products and cigarettes from Kenya ­
  • The two countries also formed a multi-agency committee from either side

Brookside Dairy is among the nearly 20 Kenyan companies that have been blocked from accessing the Tanzanian market despite last week’s deal lifting trade restrictions between the two countries.

Matters are complicated by the requirement for Kenyan professionals to pay Sh5,000 for business visas – even for a one-day working visit - defying a regional agreement allowing a free pass of up to six months on the job.

Hostilities between the two countries continue to fester despite a high-level meeting called on Sunday where a truce was called.

“The United Republic of Tanzania will lift restriction on milk and milk products and cigarettes manufactured in Kenya with immediate effect,” read a joint statement issued by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahiga.

Among the products that had heightened the animosity between the two countries in the recent past are cooking gas. Kenya banned its importation from Tanzania, citing quality issues. Kenya had also imposed a ban on wheat from Tanzania and the latter retaliated by banning exportation of unprocessed foods, milk products, and cigarettes.

Kenyan business community under the aegis of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Thursday detailed the extent of their frustrations at the hands of Tanzanian authorities.

“We have received complaints from our members reporting that there still is a total blockade when it comes to accessing the Tanzania market,” said the lobby in a statement.

Other companies affected by the trade ban include another milk processor New KCC, cigarette manufacturer BAT, all the cement makers, Vivo Llubricants, which markets Shell lubricant brands and Bidco Oil Refineries.

Firms like carbon dioxide maker Carbacid have been forced to pay up to Sh30,000 per truck ferrying the preservative gas. The trade restrictions have threatened the relations between the two neighbours - the two of the biggest economies in the six-member East African Community bloc. It would appear Sunday’s meeting to the restrictions that have driven a wedge between the two countries, where Kenya is the bigger loser on the strength of being a bigger exporter, have not borne any fruit. Following the ban, Kenyan exporters suffered huge losses after perishable products went bad after being locked out at the border points with Tanzania, including Namanga.

Milk products specifically have a limited shelf life, meaning they are susceptible to delays in clearance at the border points.

“Some of the products milk and margarine are perishable products with a very short shelf-life,” said KAM said in its protest note.

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