Renewed hope Tanzania will back trade deal with Europe
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga says President Magufuli’s visit to Kenya gives hope to the pact
The Kenyan business community is hoping renewed ties with Tanzania will help the region strike a balance, paving way for the signing of a trade deal with the 28-member European Union.
This follows President John Magufuli’s visit to Kenya where he, with President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday affirmed commitment to regional integration and corporation.
The two agreed to form a joint commission to be led by Foreign Affairs ministers to address regional integration.
“We both know for us to succeed and expand the economies of the two states and create employment for the youth, we must walk together,” said Uhuru during a joint press conference at State House, Nairobi.
This comes at a crucial time when Kenya has embarked on another round of diplomatic talks with her least-developed East African Community peers in a fresh bid to convince them to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement deal with the EU.
Tanzania has been seen as a major barrier after it declined to sign the deal, arguing it will affect growth of its industries.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga yesterday said Magufuli’s visit gives hope to the deal.
“There must be hope,” Wakiaga said “We shared out on non-tariff barriers in Tanzania with the ministry. We have also been part of the negotiations and we have ensured we have a solid agreement to protect local industries.”
Magufuli said Kenya remains a key partner of Tanzania, noting that Kenyan investments in Tanzania amount to $1.7 billion (Sh172.65 billion), with 529 companies operating in the country.
This, he said has created 56,260 jobs. “Kenya is partner number one,” Magufuli said.
The next EAC heads of state summit is set for January 8, and only Kenya and Rwanda have inked the long-delayed deal with the EU – the country’s largest export market for fresh produce.
Magufuli said the joint commission should meet before the end of this year,a move that could boost trade. He said: “We are lagging behind and we must move with speed.”
Tanzanian President John Magufuli inspects a guard of honour in Nairobi after he arrived in Kenya for a two-day state visit yesterday