- Kenyans are hopeful Tanzania will open its borders for trade.
- The two governments are keen on investments in gas sector, trade on Lake Victoria and cross-border trade.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s two-day visit to Tanzania over the weekend has breath fresh life to the Nairobi–Dar es Salaam diplomatic and trade relations which had last week tumbled over political differences.
The two Heads of States who met in Magufuli's backyard of Chato District denounced political differences and instead called for peace and close collaboration to boost trade and investments.
This is now seen as a fresh start for the two countries which have a long history of back and forth fallouts on trade-related issues.
For instance in July 2016, Tanzania refused to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement(EPA) with the European Union, prompting Kenya and Rwanda to seek individual ratification.
The two East Africa Community (EAC) member states are also coming out of a trade row on local content which last year saw a tit-for-tat ban on some commodities, imposing of duty on some goods, the frustration of traders and reluctance in clearing cargo at border points.
Tanzania has severally been accused of applying protectionism which has made it difficult for foreign traders to penetrate its markets.
The weekend meeting, however, seems to have eased things, opening up opportunities for government-to-government and business-to-business engagements.
"We want to ensure that we have peace. We know a majority of our people are good. They want to do business, to travel and to farm,” Uhuru said.
The two presidents have set the stage for investments in the gas sector, trade on Lake Victoria and cross-border trade.
“We have a lot of gas and Kenya needs gas. Instead of importing from thousands of miles away from East Africa, they should come and buy from us,” Magufuli asserted.
The Kenyan business community is now hopeful Tanzania will uphold its commitment of opening up its borders for trade after close to two years of hard stance.
This includes implementing the Single Customs Territory(SCT) to pave way for seamless flow of goods.
During a bilateral meeting in Arusha, in April this year, the two states agreed to fast track the process of harmonization of domestic taxes, levies and fees.
“As the business community, we want the trade to thrive which means our economies will grow,” East African Business Council (EABC) chairman Nicholas Nesbitt told The Star.
Kenya's envoy to Tanzania Dan Kazungu has also reaffirmed the country's commitment to the good relations and trade with Tanzania.
Kazungu who attended the Arusha bilateral talks in April noted out of the 37 Non-Tarrif-Barriers which have been in place, 19 have been resolved.
“For the remaining 18, decisions have been made on how to resolve them. Yes, we have had our differences but we have stopped the bleeding,” Kazungu told The Star on Sunday.
Emotions ran high last week after Starehe MP Charles Njagua called on the ejection of foreigners from city markets.
Kenya and Tanzania remain key trading partners. Last year, Kenyan exports to Tanzania were valued at Sh29.8 billion up from Sh28.5 billion in 2017–Economic Survey 2019. Imports from Tanzania increased to Sh17.8 billion from Sh17.2 billion.
The value of Kenyan investments in Tanzania is above Sh205.4 billion with over 500 projects, making it among the top five investors in the country.