Arusha. Bilateral trade between Tanzania and Kenya hit $905.5 million in the first eleven months of last year as their trade relations improve.
Records indicate that total trade between the two states for January to November 2021 trade picked up, enough signs of measures taken on long standing trade disputes.
Kenya imports from Tanzania stood at $501 million and exports $403.9 million during the period which followed President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s official visit to Nairobi last May. “The economies of the East African Community (EAC) region had also manifested resilience to the Covid-19,” the regional business body said yesterday.
The encouraging signs of increased trade between the two countries emerged on Wednesday during a trade facilitation forum at the Namanga border post.
The regional apex body of private sector associations said there were ample signs that the region was recovering steadily from the effects of the pandemic.
EABC says Tanzania has lately registered a favourable balance of trade with its northern neighbour due to sharp increase of exports to the latter.
Tanzania’s total increased marginally by 3.7 percent to $14.5 million in 2020 from $14 million in 2019.
The country’s main export destinations in the EAC during the year were Kenya at $230.2 million, Rwanda at $208 million, Uganda $191.3 million and Burundi at $179 million.
However, trade in services declined from the fourth quarter of 2019, hitting a decline of 67.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020, from a negative growth rate of 0.69 percent in 2019.
According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) station manager at Namanga Joseph Moywaywa, the border clears an average of 250 trucks daily, most of them from Tanzania into Kenya.
“This is a three-fold increase in comparison to May last year,” he told a meeting attended by officials of trade facilitation agencies from both countries, traders and other business stakeholders.
Several speakers at the day-long meeting at the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) facility called for the setting up of a permanent cargo scanner to facilitate trade.
Leaders of the Freight and Forwarders Association, on their part, urged for the separation of the Import Declaration Form (IDF) from the Integrated Customs Management System (ICMS) of Kenya.
They said despite the increase of trade volume between the two countries, new challenges have emerged in which the cost of cargo clearance has shot up. “The clearing cost of cargo on the Kenyan side has increased by 70 percent due to multiple processes and departments,” lamented Daniel Wainaina, the chairman of the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa).
He cited a 20 metric ton (tonne) cargo truck whose cost of clearing has shot up to approximately $200, a situation he said has resulted in “uncompetitiveness”.
Ms Eugenia Mwesiumo, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and EAC Cooperation reaffirmed Tanzania’s commitment to economic integration through trade facilitation.
She underscored the important role of border agencies in easing cross-border trade not only between Tanzania and Kenya but five other EAC member countries as well.
She, however, admitted that the Namanga border post was still grappling with a number of challenges which include system failures leading to delay in issuance of C4 documents and multiple roadblocks.