Tanzania and Kenya are yet to resolve the standoff over the testing of goods crossing their borders, subjecting traders from both countries to increased losses.
“I have spoken to my Tanzanian counterpart on the release of goods from both sides, pending consultations on a bilateral basis. Although the actual process has to be followed there is no need of holding goods in a manner that is painful to traders,” said Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s EAC Affairs Cabinet Secretary told The East African.
The EastAfrican has learnt that the bilateral talks aimed at resolving the stalemate would involve the ministers of trade of the two countries followed by the ministers for EAC Affairs. The ministers were supposed to meet last week.
Tanzania started subjecting Kenyan products to quality verification from February 25, after its Kenyan counterparts did the same for three consecutive months. This goes against a mutual agreement on the standards of goods traded within the region.
Spirits and tiles are among products from Tanzania that are subjected to quality verification before entering Kenya despite having a Tanzania Bureau of Standards quality mark.
According to the acting director for quality management at the TBS Lazaro Msasalaga, the Kenya Bureau of Standards has been taking samples of the products for verification in Nairobi through a process which takes as long as 30 days.
As a result, Tanzania retaliated by detaining Kenyan products on its borders for more than seven days pending quality verification.
“The consignments will be cleared after conforming to standards and other regulations as per our procedures,” said Simon Kidiga, TBS, quality assurance officer.
According to the EAC agreement on product quality, once the quality of a product has been tested and approved in the home country, it is allowed to enter a member state’s territory without being subjected to further screening.
According to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) metal and automotive sectors have been heavily affected by the double-testing standoff between the two countries.
Kenya and Tanzania have been involved in persistent trade disputes which has, at times, prompted the intervention by the heads of state to try and resolve the differences.
EAC countries have continued introducing tariff and non-tariff barriers which have been blamed to the falling volumes of intra-regional trade and putting integration agenda at risk.
In addition to the trade disputes between Tanzania and Kenya, Uganda has also been experiencing its own challenges.
For example, Uganda’s cooking oils and fats have been facing challenges entering the Tanzanian market largely due to the alleged failure to meet the EAC Rules of Origin.