enya’s imports from Tanzania grew by 70% from January 2021 to June 2021 compared to the same period last year. The statistics indicate that the value of goods ordered by Kenya from Tanzania stood at US$167.5 million in the stated period.
According to data from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) published by the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya’s export to Tanzania dipped by 21.39% (US$158 million), resulting in a rare deficit of US$9.3 million.
The East Africa Community Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki noted that the trade volumes at the Namanga border increased sixfold last month, compared to a similar period last year.
In May this year, president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, visited Kenya for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening ties between the two East African neighbours after years of cold relationship.
Once a close ally of Kenya in the East African Community (EAC), Tanzania has drifted itself in recent years from the regional bloc, a period of growing economic rivalry and accusations of unfair trade practices between the two countries.
The two leaders announced the signing of an agreement to transport liquefied petroleum gas from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the Tanzanian economic capital Dar es Salaam during the visit. Of the six nations that make up the EAC, Kenya is the largest investor in Tanzania.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mathuki has urged the private sector in EAC to take advantage of the ongoing bilateral engagements between Partner States, to promptly resolve trade disputes so as to increase trade among Partner States.
He also called upon the private sector to promptly harmonise their positions on trade agreements at the national level before engaging their counterparts in other Partner States to fast-track trade deliberations.
“Regular consultations and dialogues within the national private sector bodies, is critical in building consensus within a Partner State. Divergent positions within a country will only delay in concluding trade deliberations at the regional level, further delaying implementation of regional trade policies,” Dr. Mathuki told CEO’s engagement roundtable meeting that was organized by the East African Business Council (EABC) in Arusha.
On improving cross border trade, Dr. Mathuki said that the EAC Secretariat was working on deploying a 24-hour working system at the border, among all Partner States and fully integrating the One Stop Border Post systems.
In addition, the Secretary General also reaffirmed his commitment to pushing for the finalization of the comprehensive review of EAC Common External Tariff, harmonization of domestic taxes in EAC (excise taxes, value-added taxes & income taxes), elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers in the region and activation of the EAC disputes settlement mechanism among others.
On his part, the Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr. John Mongella, reaffirmed the Tanzanian government´s commitment to working with the private sector, as it embarks on recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Data from the Bank of Tanzania shows that foreign exchange earnings dropped from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $1billion. Foreign tourist arrivals in 2020 declined to 616,491 from 1.5 million in 2019,” Mr. Mongella said.
EABC CEO, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa urged the business community to make use of the recently launched EAC-EABC Technical Working Group and share some of the key issues impeding trade and investment across the region so that the committee can deal with them.