First Time in Decades, Tanzania’s Exports Exceed Imports from Kenya

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan Arrives in Kenya (News Central TV)

Tanzania’s exports to Kenya have exceeded its imports for the first time in decades, signalling an improved trade flows under President Samia Suluhu’s administration.

According to fresh data by the Central Bank of Kenya, imports from Tanzania has grown to nearly three-quarters in the first half of 2021 compared with a year earlier. The value of goods that Kenya imports from Tanzania hit a high of Sh370 billion in the review period.

The 70.06 percent surge in goods bought from Tanzania outpaced that of exports, which grew at a five-year high, resulting in a rare trade deficit of Sh21.02 billion.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart, Suluhu, had in the month of May pledged to halt strained trade relations between the two largest economies in the six-nation EAC bloc.

The Tanzanian president’s visit to Nairobi touched off a series of joint trade meetings aimed at flattening barriers to the flow of goods. This included a deal to build a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa.

This was followed by a three-day investment forum of manufacturers from both countries in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Confederation of Tanzania Industries resolved to jointly lobby authorities to end crippling non-tariff barriers.

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Kenyan manufacturers had protested discriminative duties and non-tariff barriers such as double inspection of goods for standards by Tanzania which had made supplies such as meat, milk, and related products to the neighbouring country uncompetitive.

They also argued that the protectionist fees were against the EAC Common Market Protocol, which requires member states to open up borders to facilitate free movement of goods, labour, services as well as capital.

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