EAST AFRICA – Kenya has scraped inspection fees for Tanzanian importers of processed foods approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) following a bilateral meeting between Kenya and Tanzania held in Arusha to do away with trade barriers.

Kenya and Tanzania resolved to harmonize domestic taxes, levies and fees that are charged on each other’s products, and gave a nod to the implementation of a Single Customs Territory (SCT) to enhance the clearance of goods at their borders.

Tanzania is a significant trading partner of Kenya and is the second largest buyer of its goods in Africa only behind its regional peer Uganda.

 According to statistics from the Central Bank of Kenya it bought goods valued at $2,820,0371 (ksh3.04 billion) from Kenya in March up from $25,974,026 (ksh2.8 billion) a month earlier.

The meeting followed a directive by the two countries’ Heads of State during the visit of Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu in Kenya early last month.

It was co-chaired by Tanzania’s Minister for Trade Kitila Mkumbo and his Kenyan counterpart, Betty Maina.

The two countries also resolved to normalize maize importation from Tanzania to Kenya which had largely stalled over the past few months following Kenya’s ban on grain from that country and Uganda over contamination concerns.

The ban has since seen maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda fall by 73 per cent, from 637,489 bags of 90-kg each in February to 146,707 bags in March, leading to a shortage that has seen the price of maize flour rise above $0.93 (ksh100) for a 2-kg packet.

A joint statement by the two ministers indicated that the meeting reviewed progress made in implementing decisions from the previous bilateral meeting and emphasized the importance of ensuring they comply with the commitments made between the two countries.

During the meeting, 64 issues were discussed out of which 30 issues were resolved and decisions have been made on how to resolve the remaining 34.

Further the parties agreed to meet in the next 90 days to evaluate the level of the implementation.

They resolved to ascertain compliance with the Rules of Origin and that preferential treatment to be accorded to products that qualify.

East African Community (EAC) Rules of Origin refers to a set of criteria that is used to distinguish between goods that are produced within the EAC Customs territory and are eligible to Community preferential tariff treatment and those produced outside the EAC customs territory that attract import duties specified in the Common External Tariff.