Relief as Kenya, Tanzania agree to lift trade restrictions
Kenya has lifted restrictions on wheat flour and cooking gas imports from Tanzania, which has in turn allowed milk and cigarettes from Kenya.
The countries’ Foreign Affairs ministers said in Nairobi on Sunday that the move followed discussions between presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and John Pombe Magufuli.
“The Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania will lift any other restrictions that affect products and services exchanged between the two countries,” they said in a statement read by Tanzania Foreign Affairs minister Augustine Mahiga, who is also in charge of the East African Community Affairs docket.
Kenyans will however still have to apply for visas when travelling to Tanzania for business, though Mr Mahiga said they were looking into the issue.
“If there are still some bottlenecks, we are pledging to address them to allow our citizens to travel easily,” he said.
The two countries would continue to man border posts jointly while the production of an East African Community (EAC) passport would help ease movement across the states, he said.
The two countries also agreed to set up a joint technical committee chaired by the Foreign Affairs ministers and comprising the EAC Affairs, Trade, Finance, Interior, Energy, Agriculture, Transport and Tourism ministries and any other relevant government agency.
Kenya banned the importation of cooking gas from Tanzania in April, with the Energy ministry at the time saying the move was meant to curb the proliferation of illegal filling plants.
Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said at the time that Mombasa would be the only point of import for Liquid Petroleum Gas.
Tanzanian LPG companies export to Kenya about 40,000 tonnes of cooking gas annually.
Gas from Tanzania is cheaper because their costs of offloading at the ports in Tanga and Dar es Salaam are lesser than those in Mombasa.
Kenya had said it would only allow wheat flour and other products milled from grain produced in Tanzania or whose full Common External Tariff rate has been applied.