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Joy As Kenya, Tanzania End Two-Month Trade Spat

Tanzania and Kenya have ended a two-month diplomatic row that led to import bans of some products and resulted in heavy financial losses for businesses from either side.

The  cessation of hostilities came after President Uhuru Kenyatta and Tanzania’s John Magufuli stepped in to end what was fast degenerating into a full-blown diplomatic crisis between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Following the deal, Tanzania has re-opened its borders to Kenyan products, including unprocessed foods, milk products and cigarettes, ending a standoff that saw exporters from both countries suffer financial setbacks.

In reciprocation, Kenya has allowed Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) from Tanzania back into the country, a month after imposing a ban citing safety and security risks.

Kenya has also lifted the ban on Tanzanian wheat.

“The ban has been lifted. We no longer have a problem at all,” Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau told Standard Business.

Trade PS Chris Kiptoo confirmed the lifting of the import ban by both countries.

“To my knowledge, the borders have been reopened for business, but we have a bilateral meeting set for September 6 to 8 in Tanzania,” he said of the new developments.

Tanzania has, however, retained the duty it imposed on Kenyan products pending the outcome of the high-level meeting to iron out some sticky issues.

Meeting Aborted

The meeting was supposed to be held on Wednesday last week but it aborted at the last minute when Tanzanian officials failed to show up. Previous attempts to resolve the impasse have not yielded results, including an agreement between Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahiga last month.

Milk processor New KCC, cigarette manufacturer BAT, all the cement makers, Vivo Lubricants – which markets Shell lubricants – and Bidco Oil Refineries were among the 20 Kenyan companies affected by the ban.

The standoff was ignited in January, when officials from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) denied entry to 42 trucks ferrying wheat destined for Kenyan bakery DPL Festive from Sid Salim Bahkresa in Tanzania.

Kenya sought the advice of the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat on the matter and was advised that the wheat qualified for the trade bloc’s tariff treatment and, therefore, could move freely across the border.

The revenue authority however ignored the advice, leading to an escalation of hostilities between the two countries that ended up with Tanzania imposing counter-bans. The extent of the losses made by both sides is yet to be determined, but the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) said yesterday it was happy the ban had been lifted. “There is movement of goods now to Tanzania, which is good progress,” said the lobby.

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