President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to, within two weeks, resolve the impasse regarding the clearance of imported maize at the Kenya-Tanzania border.
The stand-off at the Namanga border has seen trucks ferrying goods from Kenya blocked from entering Tanzania, while those from the neighbouring country, which are carrying maize, have been stranded on the other side of the border.
"Concerned ministers must go to resolve the traffic snarl-ups at the borders in Taita Taveta and Namanga so that vehicles can continue to ferry goods between the two countries. Those who have Covid-19 health clearance certificates from Tanzania must also be allowed to enter Kenya and vice versa," the President directed on Wednesday.
He was speaking during the Kenya-Tanzania business forum at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi, which was attended by Tanzanian President Suluhu Samia who was on a two-day state visit.
No work permits
President Kenyatta said that Tanzanian traders in Kenya would not be required to have a business visa or work permit for them to operate in the country as Nairobi and Dar es Salaam moved to mend faces.
He said that Covid-19 clearance certificates should be accepted to fasten clearance of goods.
This came as the two leaders meeting in Nairobi resolved to ease trade barriers that have seen the value of trade between Kenya and Tanzania plummet in recent years.
The two leaders outlined their visions to smoothen the strained trade relations between the two countries.
Level of trade
In his address, President Kenyatta noted that the level of trade between Kenya and Tanzania over the last two decades has been disappointing and reflects badly on the trade regimes in place between the countries.
He said that the value of trade between Kenya and Tanzania has dropped from Sh60.4 billion in 2012 to Sh58 billion in 2020, which shows that trade barriers between the two trading partners especially non-tariff barriers need to be urgently addressed.
"The prosperity of our two countries hinges on creating a conducive business environment, boosting economic cooperation and growing mutually beneficial trade and investment," President Kenyatta said.
Mr Kenyatta said that the East African Community's trade treaties and protocols highlight the benefits of regional cooperation by opening the borders of member countries and unlocking opportunities for the free movement of goods, services and investment opportunities.
"This should have paved the way for trade (between Kenya and Tanzania) to thrive, create new opportunities and increase trade volumes. This, supported by a vibrant and entrepreneurial private sector trade between our countries, has thrived, but we must accept that it has yet to reach the levels that we all expected," he said.
On her part, President Suluhu said that interdependence between countries is key, especially in an era of globalisation, adding that Kenya and Tanzania cannot independently develop themselves in isolation of each other.
"Real development is only realised when we develop together. Business to business interactions provide an avenue for companies to exploit areas of interest and forge cooperation for mutual benefit. Such partnerships create jobs that boost the economic well-being of our people," President Suluhu said.
Ms Suluhu said that the two countries must ensure that businesses from either side of the border operate in a conducive environment through making of good legislation, enhancing transparency, enforcing just taxation systems and operating efficient court systems.