Tanzania has accepted new bi-lateral talks with Kenya to sort out a trade spat that has so far cost Kenya Sh2.6 billion.
The talks will also act as an avenue for Kenya to court Dar to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) deal with the European Union that Tanzania and Burundi have refused to sign.
Their refusal has thrown the agreement between the EU and the East African Community (EAC) bloc in turmoil regarding access to European markets.
Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo confirmed to Weekend Business that the new talks will be held on January 27 and 28 in Mombasa.
This is after similar talks that were held in Dar es Salaam last November failed.
“It is a good thing that Tanzania has accepted these talks again and I hope this time we can sort out our trade issues once and for all,” Dr Kiptoo said.
The PS also revealed that talks will be held with the US later this month to discuss the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
He said the Trump administration was eager to review the significance of Agoa to the US, and how much it has gained from it since its inception.
“I hope Trump keeps Agoa going. Former President Barack Obama extended it for 10 years, and I am inclined to believe Trump will stick to that.
“After that, the EAC can negotiate a new arrangement with the US which maybe could be a free trade arrangement,” Kiptoo said.
Kiptoo also confirmed that Kenya has officially started talks with Britain to come up with a new trade arrangement that will define the relations between the two countries as the UK prepares to quit the EU in March 2019.
“We have established a national trade negotiation council within the ministry that is handling these post-Brexit negotiations, and definitely we will have an agreement with them,” he said.
The UK is one of Kenya’s most important trade partners, sharing historical ties since colonial days. It is Kenya’s fourth most important export destination after Uganda, Netherlands and the US.
“UK is the largest European foreign investor in Kenya, with about 220 British investment companies based in Kenya, which include Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, ACTIS (formerly CDC Capital Partners), De La Rue and Unilever.
“The trade is in favour of UK but the deficit has been gradually reducing. This trade must be protected even post Brexit,” said Kiptoo.