Economic Integration: TZ, Kenya widen doors

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan and Kenyan counterpart William Ruto have expressed their determination to forge relations that focus on benefiting their citizens through exploiting natural resources and trade opportunities.

At the State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the two leaders made their commitments shortly after holding bilateral discussions and wrapping up President Ruto’s two-day working visit in the nation.

The bilateral discussions, according to President Samia, we

re centred on enhancing ties between Tanzania and Kenya, including ways in which the two nations can gain from removing trade restrictions.

The two leaders also discussed ways to further boost bilateral cooperation and vowed to do so in a number of areas, including trade and investment, tourism, infrastructure development, energy, defence and security, immigration, border demarcation, and regional cooperation.

“We agreed to direct our experts to work on the remaining trade barriers between Kenya and Tanzania,” said Ms Samia.

“Boosting trade relations is something that we’ve started working on during the tenure of previous President Uhuru Kenyatta,” she said.

She stated that overall, of the 68 non-tariff barriers and bilateral issues that the experts had identified, 54 had been addressed and eliminated, while 14 remaining will be resolved.

According to President Samia, the collaboration to solve trade barriers that began between Tanzania and Kenya has significantly boosted business, with Tanzania reaping twice as many benefits as it had been getting.

“We can all profit from this. Let’s share money and opportunities rather than poverty and humiliation,” he said.

In her speech, Ms Samia said that the reduction of trade barriers between the two nations had given trade a much-needed boost.

The Joint Commission for Collaboration (JCC), which was established to deepen and strengthen cooperation between the two nations, was underscored by the two heads of state. They also emphasised the significance of holding a mid-term review meeting to ensure that the agreed-upon implementation areas are being followed up on.

Another area that they have discussed is the 600-kilometre gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa, where the two countries, according to President Samia, have already signed an agreement. She said that President Ruto has carried it as the first key project that he will start with Tanzania.

President Samia said they also discussed ways of enhancing cooperation between the security agencies of the two countries to battle trans-boundary crimes such as poaching, drugs and human trafficking.

On his part, President Ruto pledged to build on the foundations laid down by his predecessor, Uhuru, with his Tanzanian counterpart, President Samia in improving ties between the two countries.

“My mission here apart from the fraternal relations between the two countries is to confirm to you and the people of Tanzania that the good foundation that was laid when you came into office and work with my predecessor Uhuru,” he said.

He added,” I am very confident under President Samia’s leadership these two countries will grow by leaps and bounds.”

According to Dr Ruto, because of the goodwill built between the two countries, trade between the countries has grown phenomenally, where in one year, export from Kenya to Tanzania grew from 598bn/- to 868bn/- and trade of goods from Tanzania to Kenya grew from 521bn/- to 964bn/-.

“An increase in trade benefits everybody and I have come to underwrite that increase in trade is where we want to go, we want to increase trade between our two countries, we want to double that number

“Ministers and other technocrats should ensure that by December this year, we should have concluded that process to solve the remaining 14 trade barriers, so that our people can trade in a better environment and reap the benefits of trade across our borders,” he noted.

He said they will expedite the gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam-Mombasa and eventually to Nairobi, so that they can use the resources available in the region to lower energy tariffs both for industry, commercial purposes and domestic use.

Dr Ruto said they have agreed that the 4th JCC be held before the end of the year, so that everything they have said can be finalised and signed off so that they can progress the newfound partnership and friendship currently being spearheaded by President Samia.

“I have committed that I will support her to ensure this region continues to be united, continue to speak with one voice and build a relationship between our people. We want to grow this region together, we want to grow our economy together, and we want to grow the relationship as East Africans together,” he said.

At the international level, they agreed to deepen their cooperation in regional and international organisations on issues of mutual interest. They underlined the importance of the EAC region to speak with one voice on global challenges such as climate change, the fight against terrorism, the reform of the United Nations Security Council, international immigration and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

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