Kenya and Tanzania have lifted import restrictions imposed on goods from each country with immediate effect to allow for free flow of trade in accordance with the East Africa Community (EAC) protocol.
The two countries had imposed restrictions on each other in a move that analysts said could be detrimental to the EAC trade protocol which was already in place.
Speaking while making the announcement yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet secretary Dr Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahiga, said the ban on the imports had been lifted to enable the free flow of trade in the region.
Dr Mahiga said Kenya will lift import restrictions on wheat flour and liquefied petroleum gas from Tanzania while Tanzania will lift the restrictions on milk and milk products, cigarette manufactured in Kenya.
“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,” he said. Amina and Mahiga said they had been directed by the two heads of state to issue a joint statement to announce the decision to lift the ban and resolve other related issues.
Their announcement follows a meeting the two ministers held last week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to resolve the trade matters bedevilling the two countries. Mohamed said they have agreed to form a Standing Joint Technical Committee to resolve other important and weighty bilateral issues that need to be addressed.
“The committee will be chaired by the two ministers of Foreign Affairs, and will include ministries of East Africa Community, Trade, Finance, Interior, Energy, Agriculture and Transport, Tourism and will incorporate other key government agencies as the need arises,” she said. Kenya imposed a ban on importation of cooking gas from Tanzania on May 18.
Following the move, Tanzania also banned overland transport of maize from Zambia into Kenya, which had been experiencing shortage of the foodstuff. The diplomatic trade tiff was strange given the huge volumes of goods flowing between the two countries and the potential harm that the disputes could cause.
Prior to the decision, Tanzania had expressed concern over Kenya’s refusal to allow Tanzanian exporters to transport cooking gas to Kenya through Kenya-Tanzania border. Adolf Mkenda, Industry, Trade and Investment Permanent Secretary in a statement, said Tanzania had learnt of the ban through the media.
He said the decision was against East Africa Community protocol and had breached an agreement reached between the two countries. The decisions of the two countries to impose a ban on each other’s goods had affected businesses and ordinary citizens who earn their living through.
During an EAC sectoral meeting in early June 2, the two countries reached a decision that Kenya should lift the ban in adherence to the EAC protocol. Kenya agreed to lift the ban on importation of cooking gas and wheat through Tanzania-Kenya borders.
Besides imposing a ban on importation of cooking gas through the two countries’ borders, Kenya had imposed a ban on importation of wheat, which was also against EAC trade regulations. On April 24, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Petroleum Andrew Kamau announced the ban on gas imports from Tanzania, a move he said was meant to eliminate illegal cooking gas filling plants that posed safety and security risks.
The PS wrote a letter to Energy Regulatory Commissions, Customs and Kenya Bureau of Standards and designated Mombasa as the only point of import for LPG. Tanzania exports more than 4000 tonnes of LPG out of which at least 2,000 tonnes pass through Namanga border point alone.