Kenya and Tanzania have been trading buddies if informally recorded as the two nations have enjoyed bilateral trade benefits in abased and abound state. With the motivating factor being the proximity between the two, the cross-border trade has had good times in development. It is, however, guaranteed that not every day is a Sunday and therefore at times there would be a ‘scratch’ between them.
Recently, statistics show that trading activities has experienced a huge decline. Kenya has been experiencing instability due to the political temperatures that culminated the presidential elections and change in climate since the beginning of 2017. Tanzania on the other side has not been on the favourite end as it has also experienced inflation barrier due to infrastructure and food prices camouflaging.
Despite all these challenges and the coming together to help one another especially in food conditions due to the adversely affected agricultural sector, there has been little changes in the trade graph.
Trade between the two countries continues to fall. In the first five months of the year, exports from Nairobi to Tanzania dropped by 34 per cent, while exports to Tanzania dropped to $77.6 million from $118.8 million in the same period last year, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Tanzania is Kenya’s largest regional trading partner. A trade dispute in April led to a ban on margarines, tile products, milk, wheat and gas. Two weeks ago the two countries appeared to have lifted the ban, but this was not so.
“When we were told that the two governments had set aside the trade ban, our dairy products members tried to get to the Kenyan market but were told that access was still limited,” the Tanzania Private Sector Federation (TPSF) said in Dar es Salaam last week at a meeting between them and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).
Last Sunday, speaking at the Tanga Fresh Milk Company Ltd, President Magufuli said, “Tanzania will not allow importation of processed milk from any country as this will cripple our local milk processors’ efforts to produce and export.
“I closed the Arusha-based milk processing factory because it was just a raw milk collecting centre. How can I allow a foreign investor to purchase raw milk and process it in his country and then resell it to us at inflated prices?”
Last week, trade officials from the two countries led by Kenya’s Trade permanent secretary Chris Kiptoo and his Tanzanian counterpart Adolf Mkenda held talks at the Namanga Customs border point on the trade dispute. They are expected to have a follow up bilateral meeting after Kenya’s elections.
“This standoff has led to a drop in business transactions between the two states since 2015,” said Dr Kiptoo.