KENYA/TANZANIA – Kenya and Tanzania have set December as the target time when the two neighboring countries will have resolved most of the non-tariff barriers affecting cross-border trade.
The decision came out of a meeting of the Joint Commission on Cooperation (JCC), a bilateral organ comprising officials from the two countries created to resolve issues affecting areas of cooperation.
The meeting is co-chaired by Foreign Affairs ministers Raychelle Omamo of Kenya and Tanzania’s Liberata Mulamula, while the trade committee is led by Trade ministers Betty Maina of Kenya and Tanzania’s Prof Kitila Mkumbo.
The five-day meeting in Nairobi, indicated that nearly half of the barriers that have consistently plagued trade between the two countries have been resolved and that the remaining would be ironed out within the next four months.
In June, a month after the State visit by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu to Kenya, the committee identified 60 tariff and non-tariff barriers between the two countries.
The visit that was in early May cleared the way for maize exports from Tanzania that was banned for a while by Kenyan authorities, with reports saying that volume of exports has surged to more than six-fold.
Among those resolved is customs clearance of soft drinks made in their territories, removal of inspection fees on processed products with a standardization mark including wheat flour, and elimination of roaming calling fees following Tanzania’s entry into the Common Network Area.
Tanzania is also planning to follow in Kenya’s footsteps by installing the Single Window System to enable faster clearance of goods. Single Window System is a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfill all import requirements.
The online cargo clearance platform known in Kenya as the Kenya TradeNet System was launched in Nairobi in May 2014 during the regional heads of state summit hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) is the state agency mandated to implement and manage this complex and cross cutting project.
A permanent committee has also been established to monitor the implementation of decisions made, All Africa informed.
The JCC informed it would from now henceforth be holding annual meetings. The two countries also say they would soon commence the second phase of reaffirming their common border and enhance policing, but the actual timelines will depend on how soon the two sides can allocate money and experts.
The JCC signed a memorandum of understanding to guide the demarcation of the 800km border, which will reaffirm the boundary on the basis of existing treaties and recognized practice between both countries.