Boost for Kenya tea exporters as Tanzania lifts imports ban


A tea picker at a farm in Bomet County on September 7, 2023. PHOTO | BONIFACE MWANGI | NMG

Tanzania has reversed its decision to suspend imports of tea, presenting a window for Kenyan traders to resume exports to the neighbouring country.

In a memo on Wednesday, the Tea Board of Tanzania, the regulator of the country’s tea sector, said it would resume issuing import licences.

“This is to inform you that the issuance of import permits will resume with effect from February 19, 2024,” said the board memo to tea processors, blenders, packers, and traders.

“With this resumption, you are all reminded to observe all terms and conditions as stipulated in the Tea Act and Regulations before and after importation to ensure that you conduct fair business and the tea reaches the final consumers in the quality that meets domestic and international standards.”

Tanzania suspended the issuance of new tea import permits earlier this month amid concerns about the low-quality shipments into its market.

Kenya has lauded Tanzania’s decision to resume the issuance of tea importation permits after it lobbied for the country to reverse the suspension of the issuance of permits.

“We sincerely appreciate our Tanzania colleagues for the audience on the margins of the EAC (East African Community) Sectoral Council in Arusha to resolve this matter,” said Trade PS Ombudo K’Ombudo on his X (formerly Twitter) handle.

The PS added that the two trade partners would hold a Joint Trade Council in the coming weeks to review and resolve barriers that are affecting trade between the two neighbours.

However, Kenya’s exports of tea to Tanzania remain small but has been striving to grow its exports to its EAC partner to boost foreign exchange earnings from the cash crop.

Out of the 40 export destinations for Kenyan tea in 2022, Tanzania took up the least volume of consignments.

In 2022 for instance, Kenya exported just 1,200 kilogrammes of the leaf to Tanzania, ranking the country 40th of the 40 countries that Kenya sold its tea during the period.

Pakistan, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remain the largest buyers of Kenya’s tea globally respectively.

As part of efforts to improve exports of tea, the Kenyan government is also planning to drop the minimum price of $2.43 per kg of tea sold at the Mombasa auction.

The decision follows an outcry by traders that they are stuck with piles of unsold consignments of the green leaf as buyers have stayed away.

The minimum price was introduced in 2021 for tea sold by the Kenya Tea Development Agency.

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