Kenya and Tanzania have agreed to fully implement a single customs territory to fasten clearance of goods.
The two states also struck a deal to fast track the harmonisation of domestic taxes, levies and fees in a bid to ease trade between them.
This will come as good news for traders in landlocked East Africa countries who have been pushing for a single customs bond guarantee scheme for the whole region amid concerns that high cost of complying with Kenyan and Tanzanian laws have raised their cost of production.
The two countries also agreed to follow procedures stipulated in the East African Community (EAC) Customs Management Act, 2004 and Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing Act, 2016 in the inspection and clearance of goods.
Tanzania is the only EAC state that does not recognise the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Customs Bond Guarantee Scheme which shippers execute at the Mombasa port to move goods through Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The country also does not belong to the Comesa trading bloc, having opted to integrate its market with Southern Africa Development Community countries.
The deal was struck during the fourth bilateral trade meeting on non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade held in Arusha between April 23 and 27.
During the meeting, Kenya was represented by Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo while Tanzania had its Industry and Trade Minister Joseph George Kakunda.
“Pursuant to the meeting, it was agreed to fast track the process of verification missions recommended for confirmation of product origin as provided for in the EAC Rules of Origin as well as compliance with the Rules of Origin to be upheld and preferential treatment to be accorded to products that qualify,” read in part the communique from the meeting.
The meeting also directed chiefs of immigration from the two countries to convene a meeting to resolve issues between the two partner states with regulatory agencies directed to engage and address administrative issues whenever they arise before they are brought to bilateral meetings.
Out of the 37 NTBs reported, 19 have been resolved and the remaining 18 decisions have been made on how to resolve them.
“The bilateral meetings will be held quarterly at the senior official’s level and bi-annually at the Ministerial level. The next meeting to be held in July 2019 in Mombasa, Kenya,” read the statement.1