Tanzania NTBs tough on exporters

Friday September 05 2014

There is growing unease among the country’s business community as well as the government as Tanzania maintains restrictive non-tariff barriers such as a requirement to have labels written in Kiswahili.

The government has protested the labelling requirement saying it is “uncalled for” and accuses Tanzania of unfair protectionism.

“We are to engage the Tanzanian authorities in bilateral talks on non-tariff barriers,” said Francois Kanimba, the Trade and Industry Minister. “Rwanda also has issues with rice imported from Tanzania,” he added.

The business community sought political intervention after information from Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) said that Tanzanian authorities were delaying in revoking the labelling requirement.

The PSF singles out Bralirwa, a listed beer and soft drinks maker, as the most affected Rwandan company by Tanzania’s labelling requirement.

Without the labels, Bralirwa cannot freely export to Tanzania, which partly explains why the brewers’ export revenues are dipping.


Recent statistics show that the country’s leading beverage company registered a decline of eight per cent in its soft drinks market.

In its half year results for 2014, Bralirwa’s soft drinks market declined due to a fall in exports while the domestic market remained flat. Bralirwa’s beer brands are Mutizig, Heineken, Turbo King and Primus.

The drop in Bralirwa’s exports was also attributed to unfriendly tax regimes by the Democratic Republic of Congo and the visa fees Rwandans had to pay before entering DR Congo.

Even though DR Congo recently scrapped the visa fee, the three-month implementation of the requirement has had a negative effect on the Rwandan economy.

DR Congo is restricting entry of Rwandan beer into its market to protect its local industry after establishing a brewery factory in Goma, the capital of Eastern Province of Kivu.

During the planned bilateral talks, Rwanda is also expected to seek solutions to the problem of continued dumping of Asian rice by Tanzania on its market and the existence of non-tariff barriers along the Central Corridor.

Unscrupulous Tanzanian traders are repacking rice imported from Asia and re-exporting it as Tanzanian produce. Under the East African Common Market Protocol, rice from Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda does not attract taxes. But rice imported from outside the region attracts a 25 per cent import duty.

Importers who use the Central Corridor said that the many roadblocks and weighbridges result in a delay of delivery of goods to Kigali.

It takes about five days to deliver goods to Kigali. Tanzania’s Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe, while in Kigali, promised to address Rwanda’s complaints.

Despite the dismal performance of the export sector during the first six months of the year, Rwanda is on a steady recovery path from the slowdown of 4.7 per cent registered in 2013.