Kenya had a trade deficit with Tanzania hit KSh 9.15 Billion at the end of the third quarter of 2021, official figures show, the first time imports from Tanzania have exceeded exports to that country in years.
Imports into Kenya from Tanzania jumped to KSh39.68 billion in January-September 2021 period from KSh19.67 billion a year earlier, data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics(KNBS) indicate.
Local traders and factories largely source cereals, wood, edible vegetables, animal fodder, paper and paperboard from Tanzania.
The 101.76 percent surge in value of goods bought from Tanzania dwarfed 34.81 percent growth in exports from Nairobi to KSh30.53 billion.
Nairobi’s exports to Dar include pharmaceutical products, plastics, iron and steel.
“There are a lot of positive vibes within EAC that are developing and we want to ride on that as way of bringing back EAC that used to be. For example, relationship between Kenya and Tanzania is now significantly better,” said Adan Mohamed, Cabinet secretary for EAC Affairs in a media interview last September.
“Ultimately, as government, we try and make sure that the environment is suitable for the private sector to do business.”
The bump in trade flows between the two countries happened on the back of a pledge between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his counterpart Samia Suluhu early May to end on-and-off trade tiffs between EAC’s two largest economies.
The KNBS data shows the gap between imports and exports has been widening since the beginning of the year in favour of Tanzania.
The deficit in merchandise trade stood at KSh1.24 billion in first quarter, KSh1.84 billion in the second and nearly KSh6.07 billion between July and September.
Tanzania is the only country in the six-nation EAC trading bloc that ran a surplus with Kenya in the review period, according to the KNBS provisional data.
Kenya had a trade surplus of KSh35.81 billion and KSh16.57 billion with Uganda and Rwanda, respectively.
Kenyan manufacturers had in recent years protested “discriminative” duties and non-tariff barriers such double inspection of goods for standards by Dar es Salaam which had made supplies such as meat, milk and their products to Tanzania uncompetitive.
The protectionist fees on animal and animal products, among other trade barriers, Kenyan factories had argued, was against EAC Common Market Protocol which requires member states to open up borders to facilitate free movement of goods, labour, services as well as capital.