ast African Community (EAC) has called upon the various government agencies at Namanga border to hold regular consultative meetings with traders to identify and address factors that affect intra-regional trade to improve trade between Kenya and Tanzania.
The EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki was accompanied by the High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania to Kenya, Amb. Dr. John Simbachaweme.
The aim of the visit was to assess the flow of goods and services at the Namanga border, as a follow-up of the recent directives issued by President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya on the removal of trade restrictions between the two countries.
In his remarks, Dr. Mathuki said that trade was a major driving factor in the EAC integration, and thus the need to ensure businesspeople in the region could transact business with no hurdles.
“It is therefore our obligation as the EAC to ensure the people of the region can trade and support the OSBPs to the best of our ability,” said Dr. Mathuki.
While briefing the EAC delegation, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Namanga OSBP Manager, Paul Kamkulu, said that on one hand in the FY 2019/2021, TRA issued 4,830 import declarations, while in the FY 2020/2021, 4,399 declarations were issued; and TRA issued 8,660 export declarations in the FY 2019/2021, and 10,227 declarations in 2020/2021.
“We have also observed a similar trend in the tonnage of imports and exports, and the drop in imports to Tanzania can largely be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kamkulu.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Namanga Station Manager, Joseph Moywaywa, said that since the adoption of the OSBP, Namanga has experienced an increase in cross-border trade, with the main items traded being farm produce, timber, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and ceramic floor tiles.
Moywaywa further said that implementing Covid-19 regulations for truck drivers had slowed down the cargo clearing process.
Representatives of traders attending the meeting noted with appreciation the lifting of the ban on maize imports into Kenya.
They called for resolving several issues, including the full implementation of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) by Kenya; the need for seamless integration of Customs systems by both countries; harmonisation of policies, agency fees and other charges such as weighbridge charges; as well as the need to introduce free Covid-19 testing by Tanzania.
Dr Mathuki noted that currently, EAC intra-regional trade was under 20%, which he intends to grow to at least 50% in the next five years. To achieve this, Dr. Mathuki urged border management officials to hold regular consultative meetings with stakeholders and conduct quarterly reviews to track trade volumes.
“Quarterly tracking of exports and imports will enable us to make an assessment and be able to address any challenges as they arise,” Dr. Mathuki said.
Further, Dr. Mathuki disclosed that the EAC Secretariat was establishing a Trade Hotline.
“This emergency number will be set up for feedback and follow-up on trade issues, and we hope it will provide an avenue for traders to register their challenges,” said Dr. Mathuki.
The visit to Namanga marks the Secretary General’s first mission to the border points, and it is expected that he will visit all border points in the region. He assured the Namanga border management team of the EAC’s support in creating an enabling environment to foster intra-regional trade.