Kenya, TZ trade crosses Sh100bn as Suluhu marks a year in office


President Samia Suluhu Hassan receives President Uhuru Kenyatta at Tanzania’s 60th Independence anniversary celebrations in Dar es Salaam on December 9, 2021. PHOTO | COURTESY

Annual trade between Kenya and Tanzania crossed the Sh100 billion mark for the first time in President Samia Suluhu's tenure in office, signaling improved ties between the two neighbouring countries.

Fresh official statistics show the value of goods traded between the two countries amounted to Sh107.63 billion in 12 months through March 2022, a 66.86 percent growth over Sh64.51 billion the year before.

Kenyan traders spent Sh56.78 billion to truck in goods from Tanzania in the year ended March 2022, according to data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)

That is a 77.92 percent jump of over Sh31.91 billion a year earlier.

Exports to Tanzania, on the other hand, bumped 56.03 percent to Sh50.85 billion, the KNBS data shows.

Faster growth in imports from Tanzania than exports resulted in goods trade balance tilting in favour of the south-neighbouring country to the tune of Sh5.93 billion.

Kenya mainly imports cereals, wood, paper and paperboard from Tanzania, while it largely exports pharmaceutical products, soap, lubricants, iron and steel.

Trade balance was in favour of Kenya in prior years.

Ms Suluhu — who took power on March 19, 2021, following the demise of her predecessor John Magufuli,— pledged to end persistent strained trade relations between the two largest economies in the seven-nation East African Community bloc.

Prior to her rule, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam had, for years, erected tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, slowing the free flow of goods.

Ms Suluhu's visit to Kenya in May last year was her official state visit since ascending to power where, together with her host President Uhuru Kenyatta, instructed respective Trade ministries to identify and resolve pending disputes affecting the movement of goods across the border.

Trade minister Betty Maina and her Tanzanian counterpart Kitila Mkumbo led delegations to a four-day meeting in Arusha — the headquarters of the EAC secretariat — weeks after the two presidents met in Nairobi to address unresolved trade disputes.

KNBS data shows that Kenya's food millers have since last year increased reliance on Tanzania for maize and rice supplies after below-average rainfall hit production domestically.

The two countries have in recent months, however, disagreed over quality standards of maize from Tanzania, resulting in long queues of trucks awaiting phytosanitary clearance at the Namanga, Holili and Lunga Lunga border crossings.

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