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Exports to Tanzania dip by Sh1.8b in six months amid Covid disruptions

By Noel Wandera
Friday, October 30th, 2020
Namanga immigration border.
In summary

Kenya’s exports to Tanzania for six months between March and August reduced by Sh1.8 billion on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Within that period, Kenya exported goods worth Sh14.68 billion, down from Sh16.49 billion in a similar period last year, East African Business Council (EABC) said in a report.

Imports from Tanzania also decreased by Sh5.2 billion to Sh11.13 billion compared to Sh16.35 billion last year.

Kenya exports soap, machinery and mechanical appliances, iron and steel and pharmaceutical products to Tanzania and imports timber, cereals and edible vegetables.

Bilateral trade

The regional apex business body is concerned that bilateral trade between the two leading regional economies will be affected if free movement of restrictions across their common borders is not lifted.

“There is urgent need for the re-opening of border posts which are currently not allowing movement of persons,”  EABC chief executive Peter Mathuki said 

He said this will also see resumption of the existing Ujirani Mwema markets situated in both Kenya and Tanzania and in turn reboot cross-border trade.

An EABC survey report titled “Impact of Covid- 19 on Business and Investments in the EAC and Proposed Recovery Measures for the EAC Economies,” has indicated that 56 per cent of businesses have been affected by cross-border restrictions since the pandemic hit the EAC bloc in March.

Currently, some border posts such as the Taveta-Holili One Stop Border Post (OSBP) and the Isebania – Sirare border post (Kenya - Tanzania) are still not allowing movement of persons, despite travellers having Covid-19 certificates.

During a meeting with the Taveta-Holili Joint Border Management Committee, Mathuki noted that only truck drivers and emergency cases for persons are allowed to proceed, a factor that is now encouraging illicit trade through the porous borders.

Only 919 people have been legally recorded to have used the Taveta-Holili OSBP by June 2020, a drastic reduction from the 27,960 who used it last year.

Mathuki said Pre-Covid-19, around 100-150 trucks were cleared through the same border post each day, with the number now dropping to an average of 30- 50 trucks per day.

Mathuki also urged Kenya and Tanzania to fast-track the operationalization of the Lunga Lunga - Horohoro OSBP to expedite the turnaround time of clearance of cargo and persons.