trade tussle

Kenya: Border trade halts as Tanzania guidelines cause ripples

By Victor Abuso

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Posted on June 13, 2023 14:17

 © Children near a border crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania in Namanga, Tanzania July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi
Children near a border crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania in Namanga, Tanzania July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

Tanzania’s decision to introduce new taxes and guidelines on maize exports to Kenya has led to a new trade row between the neighbouring countries.

For more than two weeks, about 200 Kenyan trucks transporting maize from Tanzania to Kenya have been stuck at the Namanga and Holili borders after Tanzanian authorities stopped issuing export permits.

“I’ve been stuck for five days now,” says a Kenyan truck driver at the Namanga border. “I am yet to be cleared from the Tanzania side.”

“It is sad that I came all the way to be stopped here,” says another Tanzanian driver transporting maize to Kenya.

Last year, Tanzania announced measures aimed at protecting their food exports and ensuring food security in the country as the region experiences maize scarcity. According to the new guidelines from Tanzania, Kenyan traders are first required to open and register a local office in Dar es Salaam, that will deal with their exports.

Food security

“The Tanzanian government is showing its citizens that it is protecting its food security, through the new guidelines,” Wycliffe Odera, political analyst, tells The Africa Report.

To obtain a trading licence to export maize and other grains, traders need authorisation from Tanzania’s licensing authority (Brela) and have a tax clearance certificate.

Tanzania Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said on Twitter that the new regulations are not only aimed at Kenya but all regional countries.

“Ensure that you have all the required papers before you import maize from Tanzania,” Bashe said following the impasse at the borders.

The move by Tanzania follows another trade tussle last June, when Kenya blocked dozens of trucks ferrying maize from Tanzania, accusing its southern neighbour of transporting maize contaminated with aflatoxin.

Since the most recent trade issues, Kenya’s Trade Minister Moses Kuria said in a tweet that President William Ruto and his Tanzanian counterpart, Samia Suluhu Hassan, have agreed to resolve the impasse.

Kuria also said trucks have been allowed to enter Kenya, with traders from his country reminded to follow the new guidelines from Tanzania.

Last October, during President Ruto’s visit to Dar es Salaam, the two countries affirmed their commitment to eliminate trade barriers, with an announcement that out of 68 non-tariff barriers, 54 have been resolved.

Soaring prices

Tanzania is a major source of maize for the Kenyan market, and the new guidelines are a blow to Kenyan millers who have been depending on imports from the neighbouring country to meet their needs.

Due to scarcity of maize, attributed to poor harvest over prolonged drought, the price of maize flour has not come down, with a 2kg packet trading at Ksh230 ($1.65).

Despite the government allowing traders to import 500,000tn of cheap maize, less than 100,000tn has come in, due to the scarcity of the grain from the international market.

Kenya and Tanzania are founding members and signatories of the East African Community, which allows the free movement of goods within and between partner states. Last week trade and finance ministers met at EAC headquarters in Arusha to discuss the implementation of trade agreements.

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