Tanzania, Kenya downplay trade war media reports

Sunday September 16 2018

Tanzania’s permanent secretary in the Ministry

Tanzania’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Prof Adolf Mkenda. 

By Frank Kimboy @frankkimboy fkimboy@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania and Kenya have downplayed claims that a trade war between the two East African Community founding states is brewing, but admitted that there were indeed some unresolved issues between the two.

Officials from the two countries also blamed the media from the two states of blowing things out of proportion.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Tanzania’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Prof Adolf Mkenda, and Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Mr Dan Kazungu, expressed their optimism that solutions would be found to the unresolved issues affecting smooth conduct of business between the two countries.

They said they were hopeful that the ongoing talks would help resolve the misunderstandings surrounding trade between the two countries.

According to Prof Mkenda , called upon traders from the two countries to be patient as the two countries strive to resolve the challenges that business persons from both countries encounter in cross-border trade.

“It is normal for countries to have disputes in their trade relations; most importantly we should all make sure that we respect agreements that we entered during the regional integration protocols,” said Prof Mkenda. The EAC has the Customs Union and Common Market protocols in place to guide trade. The Foreign Affairs PS also revealed that the government of Tanzania was aware of reports that consignments of beer from Tanzania have been confiscated in Kenya.

“We have seen on social media platforms that consignments of beer have been confiscated in Kenya but our High Commissioner in Kenya is working on the matter,” explained Prof Mkenda. Mr Kazungu urged the media not to blow trade disputes out of context.

“You (the media) should help us to strengthen the relations between the two countries… You shouldn’t just pick one thing to portray that the relations between the two countries is very bad,” said Mr Kazungu.

Some media outlets from the two countries have been reporting that there is a ‘trade war’ between the two countries basing their reports on incidents perpetrated by authorities from the two sides.

In August, Kenya and Tanzania media reported that some Kenyans had blocked trucks from Tanzania from entering the country as they protested mistreatment of Kenyan traders in Tanzania.

However, the claims were later dismissed by the Kenyan authorities.

Recently there have also been reports that Tanzania had ignored a deal that granted Kenyan-made confectionery products like chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and sweets unrestricted entry to its market.

Tanzania banned importation of confectionary goods from Kenya by claiming that some manufacturers used raw materials from countries, which weren’t members of EAC.

However, Prof Mkenda said that the row has been resolved.

The two countries have agreed the goods will only be imported duty-free if the manufacturers used local raw materials.