A historic event which saw business communities from Tanzania and Kenya, recently sat across one another to address trade impediments between the two countries. The Peer to Peer dialogue organized by the Tanzania Private Sector Federation (TPSF) together with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), saw the Umbrella bodies for the private sectors call for better trade policies and relations between Tanzania and Kenya.
This following recent Trade embargoes put in place against one another, whereby on on it’s part Tanzania banned the import of Kenyan products (Cement, edible oils, cigarettes, cooking gas and diary). Encouraging, is since then there have been efforts on both sides to return to the norm. However, TPSF still saw it imperative to engage directly with business owners and associations from Kenya to ascertain overall cross border trade challenges.
The meeting convened against the premise that under the EAC Treaty, regional integration is Private Sector driven and hence the Private Sector has an important role to play in the facilitation of trade, as well as the enhancement of business and investment.
On behalf of the business community in Tanzania TPSF Chairman Dr. Reginald Mengi reiterated the undeniable truth that both economies rely heavily on one another, and closure of borders was a lose – lose situation. “I would also like to applaud the government of Tanzania in it’s initiatives to curb down bureaucracy and corruption, which have made trade a more easier” Dr. Mengi pointed out.
On his part, Mr. George Owuor Govenor of EAC Affairs called for steps to be taken to boost and facilitate bilateral trade so as to mitigate the unfavorable trade position in the community.
Identified areas for advocacy were removal of preferential treatment of certain goods by both sides, harmonization of standards, high cost of regulation, multiple regulations. Recommendations from the Peer to peer dialogue are expected to set the agenda for upcoming bilateral talks between the two countries.
Tanzania is a lead investment destination for Kenyans, with figures in 2016 indicating a total USD 1.7 billion total investment, and trade volumes at USD 800 million. With these figures, it’s imperative that both countries align themselves at mutually beneficial positions.