Kenya and Tanzania agree to iron out trade barriers
By Fredrick Obura | May 5th 2021
NAIROBI, KENYA: A business forum held on Wednesday between Kenya and Tanzania agreed to iron out challenges constraining business between the neighbouring countries.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Tanzania counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan during the forum noted that trade opportunities between the two countries have not been fully exploited. Trade volume between the two countries was valued at Sh60.4 billion in 2012 and Sh47.5b, Sh45.6billion and Sh47.5 billion in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
In 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that the volume was valued at Sh50 billion.
“Trade between the two countries has thrived over the past due to robust private sector, entrepreneurial citizen among other factors, however from the volumes we have not exploited the opportunities to full capacity,” he said.
“There is an urgent need for cooperation between the two countries to iron out issues hindering the growth of trade,” he added.
He noted that the economies need to drop unhealthy competition which he said work against investment in the two neighbouring countries.
The President also directed responsible government officials to meet within this week or the week after to iron out issues around the Covid-19 certificate. He also directed CS Agriculture and Livestock Peter Munya to allow maize to be cleared at the border.
Reading from the same script, his counterpart Suluhu Hassan noted that real development between the two countries can get better if they develop together.
“We need to work on a conducive environment by creating efficient courts, harmonize tax regimes, work on the investment climate and better legislation,” she said. She noted that Kenya can benefit from Tanzania’s rich mineral sector while Tanzania can borrow from Kenya’s thriving technology sector.
The private sector represented by the East African Business Council noted the decline in intra EAC trade is due to several barriers to trade, investment and movement of persons. Intra-EAC trade currently stands at below 20 per cent vis a vis SADC at 48 per cent and European Union at 70 per cent.
“There’s a need to embrace digitalization particularly in moving goods and services across the EA region and harmonizing the tax regimes, we need to also strengthen the East African Secretariat,” said Nick Nesbit, Chairman of East African Business Council.
He also underscored the need to promote value addition in manufacturing and diversification of our products and the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, which will go a long way towards increasing intra-EAC trade from the current below 20 per cent.
Ministers from the two countries are expected to meet before the end of the month to iron out issues affecting trade between the two countries.
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