Kenyan and Tanzanian businesses are calling for the elimination of various non-tariff barriers that slow down trade between the two countries.
A consultative meeting held in Dar es Salaam last week between the Tanzania Private Sector Federation (TPSF) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) noted that Kenyan exporters of cement, edible oils, cigarettes and other products still encounter restrictions on entry into Tanzania while Tanzanian dairy traders are finding it difficult to export to Kenya.
“There is a need to facilitate administrative processes on the movement of goods, including clearance at border points,” the trade lobbies said in a joint communiqué after the meeting on Thursday.
The recommendations of the meeting will form the agenda in the expected bilateral talks between the two countries to be held after general election in Kenya.
“We will continue talking to the governments on these issues and will also engage the companies that initially lobbied for these restrictions on the need to review and change their positions,” the lobbies said.
During the meeting, it was proposed that the East African Community (EAC) promotes harmonisation of standards and co-operation between various agencies.
“The adoption of equivalence and recognition on mutual standards could help address harmonisation between the different bodies and agencies taking into consideration that there are already bodies in the region that have the relevant certification at both regional and international levels,” the organisers said.
During the discussions, the high cost of regulations between the two countries was identified as a hindrance, with both sides seeking to have these costs harmonised to ease the burden of doing business.
It was also noted that trucks that undergo verification at the manufacturers’ premises are still subjected to the same process at the border points.
Dar es Salaam also requires mandatory refumigation of wooden pallets even when this has been done in Kenya.
“We have agreed that there should be recognition of international standards in respect of treatment of wooden pallets. We will also recommend to the two governments to enhance information sharing and co-operation on standards and verification. Kenya has seen significant reforms in creating a single window system, bringing together multiple agencies, and Tanzania which is working on the same is encouraged to fast-track it,” the lobbies recommended.
The meeting also noted the challenge posed by the existence of two certification agencies — the Tanzania Bureau of Standards and the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority — while in the other EAC countries, only the equivalent of the former exist.
This has brought about duplication and time in efficiencies, which businesses identified as a non-tariff barrier.
“We are recommending that the EAC provide guidance on one standardised regulation to provide guidance on harmonisation of standards,” they said.
TPSF will engage competent agencies to address restriction of petroleum products from Kenya imported through Sirare border point in Tanzania.
Tanzania business community also raised issues with how Kenya applies the Rule of Origin requirement, terming it discriminatory.