KENYA – Kenya and Tanzania have successfully negotiated resolutions to longstanding trade disputes, fostering a renewed atmosphere of cooperation and economic opportunity between the two nations.  

The Eighth Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting, held in Kisumu, Kenya, marked a pivotal moment as officials from both countries agreed to address barriers hindering commerce. 

The breakthrough was spearheaded by Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary, Rebecca Miano, and her Tanzanian counterpart, Stephen Byabato.  

Following discussions, agreements were reached to facilitate the smooth clearance of goods at border points, particularly addressing the detention of exports at the Namanga border.  

Notably, Tanzania has agreed to permit the importation of Kenyan tea, while Kenya has reciprocated by facilitating the clearance of timber and Konyagi from Tanzania. 

Cabinet Secretary Miano emphasized the significant progress made during the negotiations, with 56 out of 68 trade issues successfully resolved.  

Both nations are now committed to harmonizing levies, fees, and charges affecting trade, with the establishment of a monitoring team to ensure the implementation of the agreements reached. 

President William Ruto of Kenya and President Samia Suluhu of Tanzania have reaffirmed their dedication to enhancing trade relations.  

Miano stated, “They have directed their respective trade Ministers to address all issues that affect trade with a view of enhancing trade between the two nations.” 

The resumption of tea exports to Tanzania holds significant economic implications for Kenya, given the importance of tea as a key revenue generator.  

In 2022, Kenya earned over Ksh200 billion from its tea exports, with key markets including Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The resumption of exports to Tanzania is expected to bolster Kenya’s tea industry and contribute to increased revenue generation.  

The deal will also provide an alternative market for Kenya’s tea as exporters in the region grapple with escalating costs of exporting tea through the Mombasa port due to a shortage of merchant ships and sustained attacks by Yemen-based militants on vessels transiting through the Red Sea.  

According to Hassan Bule, a Mombasa-based tea buyer, the cost of shipping a 40-foot container to key destinations such as Russia has risen more than three times. In 2023, Kenya achieved a remarkable 31 percent increase in the value of tea exports attributing the new high to both a rise in export volumes and a depreciation of the local currency. 

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