Dar es Salaam
Tanzania and Kenya have directed regulatory authorities from both sides to play a more proactive role in preventing and settling disputes between the two countries.
The directive is part of the latest consensus reached by senior government officials from the two East African countries, who sought to stave off a brewing trade war during a meeting held in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa on Wednesday.
“Both neighbouring states have agreed that the regulatory institutions should be communicating regularly to sort out issues immediately as they occur,” Prof Elisante Ole Gabriel, Tanzania's permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, told The Citizen on Friday.
The PS was one of the key members of the Tanzanian team that also included Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation PS, Prof Adolf Mkenda and Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Pindi Chana.
“We have (also) decided that the meetings of permanent or principal secretaries for ministries responsible for trade and those with direct effect to trading will be held on a quarterly basis,” said Prof Gabriel.
Key issues discussed during the meeting are how to resolve multiple charges on levies, lack of preferential treatment, delays at border points and the need for standardised inspection fees.
Uchumi, Nakumatt troubles
The two sides also discussed the non-payment of suppliers by Uchumi and Nakumatt supermarkets, which are facing financial trouble.
The slow customs procedures and slow implementation of the relevant East African Community directives also formed part of the agenda of the meeting that came amid rising concerns over a bumpy trade relation in the last few years.
“The two partner states recognised each other as a significant trading partners and underscored the importance of ease of market access for each other’s products and services,” noted the joint communiqué.
Other key issues agreed by the two countries include that the EAC Secretariat should come up with a regional policy to address challenges facing the retail sector to have a joint code of practice and regulations; that the chiefs of immigration services from the two countries to convene a meeting to resolve immigration issues and that Tanzania should undertake verification exercises on lubricants, edible oils, and cement in Kenya by March 31, this year.
Tanzania agreed to expedite ratification process and implement EAC Sanitary and Phytosanitary Protocol, which requires EAC partner states to establish regulatory institutions while Kenya was required to establish Food and Drugs Authority.
45pc of EAC trade
Trade between Kenya and Tanzania constitutes over 45 per cent of the entire trade within the EAC, data from the Kenya Economic Survey 2017 shows.
Their combined gross domestic product account for 76 per cent of the region’s economy, an indication that they are the economic backbone of the common market.
“In this regard, the two partner states called for effective and timely implementation of agreements made during bilateral meetings with a view to ease the flow of goods and services,” noted the joint communiqué.
Private sector representatives from the two countries made presentations highlighting trade and investment opportunities in aviation, mining, petroleum and transportation among others.
(Additional Reporting by Xinhua)