EDITORIAL: Kenya, Tanzania trade rows will hurt their economies

A truck at the Kenya-Tanzania border in Namanga. PHOTO | FILE
A truck at the Kenya-Tanzania border in Namanga. PHOTO | FILE 

New data showing that Kenya’s exports to Tanzania in the 10 months to October fell to a 10-year low should be a big cause for concern on either side of the border.

No nation is economically self-sufficient, and so trade ties with other countries help to cover for the shortfall.

This is evident in the endless pursuit for new trade and investment deals globally by nations focused on satisfying their ever-expanding economic needs.

It is therefore unfortunate to witness Kenya and Tanzania engaging in needless trade spats that only hurt their respective economies.

Kenya exports to Tanzania in the period to October stood at Sh23.38 billion, down from Sh28.86 billion in the same period a year earlier.

This is unacceptable especially at a time when both countries are experiencing economic challenges that would be partly mitigated by enhanced trade between them.

The economic strength of a nation lies in its ability to generate wealth through exports and it is always the dream of every country to maximise on shipment of products to markets abroad.

Political and ideological differences should not be allowed to derail economic partnerships between the two nations and the leadership on both sides must urgently engage in honest conciliatory talks that would resolve their differences once and for all.

Hardline political positions and chest-thumping must be dropped and trade diplomacy given a chance for the sake of progression. A harmonious relation is a win-win for Kenya and Tanzania because both countries need each other for trade and investment opportunities.

Many businesses have operations in both countries and such trade disputes only hurt their growth prospects contrary to the spirit of regional integration, which promotes free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital from each of the six partner states of the East African Community (EAC).

The geographical placement of the two countries gives them an advantage of engaging in low-cost cross border trade and authorities from both sides should capitalise on that to enhance their economic ties rather than engage in egoistic mind-games.