Tanzania has opened up its borders for an alcoholic drink from Kenya which had been barred entry since March this year.
This is in the wake of the ongoing Public- Private Dialogue(PPD) with trade facilitation agencies at One-Stop Borders across the East Africa Community, aimed at adressing cross-border barriers.
The initaive is under a TradeMark East Africa(TMEA) and East African Business Council (EABC) programme which scrutinizes if EAC agreements and practices are easing doing business across borders.
The PPDs focus is on the extent to which partner states are translating the EAC Common Market and Customs Union Protocols into policies that support the actualization of free movement of goods and people.
The debut EABC Public-Private Dialogue with Trade Facilitation Agencies at Namanga One-Stop Border Post brought together officials from Ministries of EAC Affairs, immigration, bureaus of standards, plant and animal health, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and revenue authorities.
Others are the police, cross border traders, transporters, exporters, importers, business leaders and women in business under one roof.
“Following EABC’s successful advocacy, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, effective September 12 2019, eliminated a long-outstanding standards related NTB on importation of Smirnoff Ice Black from Kenya which had been denied entry into Tanzania since March 2019,” EABC chief executive Peter Mathuki announced.
Another achievement from the PPD is that the heads of Namanga OSBP from Kenya and Tanzania side jointly agreed to hold a good-will neighborhood meeting, to come up with a framework to facilitate small traders living in either sides.
The small traders will be allowed to access neighboring markets of Bisil and Longido which are beyond gazetted area distances.
“This Public-Private Dialogue is an opportunity for the private sector to share successes, challenges, and concerns to intra–EAC trade, which can be resolved by the trade facilitation agencies at Namanga OSBP” Mathuki said.
He noted the intra EAC trade is low at below 15 per cent compared to SADC which is at at 48 per cent and EU at 70 per cent.
EABC is keen to raise recommendations to the EAC Heads of State and respective ministries to quickly adress trade barriers and spur intra-EAC trade and investments.
The Namanga OSBP channels 90 per cent of trade between Kenya and Tanzania.
Last year, Kenya imported Tanzanian products valued at US$175 million while exported US$293 million.
Mr. Amedeus Mzee from the Ministry of EAC Affairs Tanzania said smooth flow of goods across borders is paramount to improving the production capacity and competitiveness of EAC industries and job creation.
Mr. Wakhungu Juma from Ministry of EAC Affairs Kenya emphasized that increased trade in Kenya and Tanzania is beneficial to the economic development of the EAC.
Commissioner permits and pass(Tanzania immigration) Mary Palmer, said Tanzania has reduced residence permit fees for East Africans however issuance of temporary passports products valued has not been rolled out at entry points such as Namanga OSBP.
Former EABC board member Kake Dhariwal said US$250 charge for trucks for every entry at Namanga OSBP is high and recommended for 24-hour operations to facilitate large cargo clearance at the OSBP.
The Chair of the women cross-border association expressed that women traders are not allowed to trade inside the Namanga OSPB, Tanzanian side and requested for an allocated area for bead traders within the perimeters of the OSBP.
Director, Business Environment TMEA Mr. Allan Ngugi re-affirmed TMEA’s commitment to supporting sustainable trade and urged for continuous engagement between public and private sector in a bid to facilitate trade and investments into the region and positively impact livelihoods.
Among other obstacles to Tanzania –Kenya trade include: numerous police checks for transit vehicles, short life span validity of temporary passports and issuance of temporary passports unavailable Namanga OSBP.
Others are lack of weighbridge at Namanga OSBP, language barriers, issuance of business passes to drivers instead of temporary passes and poor awareness of the EAC simplified Trade Regime by small scale traders.