President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday announced a raft of incentives aimed at wooing Tanzanian investors to Kenya including the lifting of work permit and visa requirements.
The President said his administration will do all in its power to eliminate all non-tariff barriers for Tanzanian investors coming to do business in Kenya.
President Kenyatta spoke in Nairobi during the Kenya-Tanzania Business Forum, also addressed by visiting Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
President Kenyatta cautioned Tanzanians and Kenyans against competing with each other, and instead focus on creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.
“We would like to see many investors from Tanzania coming to do business in Kenya. And I want to say this, Tanzanian investors are free to come and do business in Kenya without being required to have business visas or work permits. The only thing you will be required to do is to follow the laid down regulations and the laws that are in place,” President Kenyatta said.
At the same time, President Kenyatta gave an ultimatum of two weeks to concerned state agencies to clear the jam of trucks at Namanga and Holili border crossings to allow free flow of trade.
He also tasked the ministers of health from both countries to move with speed and streamline Covid-19 containment protocols required for traders to cross the borders unhindered.
“I want to announce two directives and I want them done this week and next week. All concerned ministers please move with speed and unlock the jam in Holili, Taveta, and Namanga border points. On Covid-19 certificates, please let the health ministers sit and agree on modalities. If the certificate is issued in Tanzania let those people be allowed to come to Kenya and vice versa,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta challenged the private sector to explore and seize opportunities accorded by bilateral and multilateral agreements available to East Africans such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area and the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to grow their investments.
“The private sector should look beyond our borders and seize opportunities accorded by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, which came into effect on 1st January this year, and the older, but still important EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
“The East African Community, through the East African Customs Union and East African Community Common Market Protocol, has opened our borders and unlocked opportunities for the free movement of goods, services, and investments across the EAC borders. This has paved the way for trade to thrive, new opportunities to emerge and trade to increase,” President Kenyatta said.
He observed that although the two countries boast of a vibrant and entrepreneurial private sector, trade between the two countries has not thrived to the expected levels going by the decline in volumes of trade in recent years.
“Total trade was valued at Ksh. 60.4 billion in 2012 and Ksh. 58 billion in 2020, indicating a slight decline. In the years 2016, 2017 and 2018, total trade was valued at Ksh. 47.5 billion, Ksh. 45.6 billion and Ksh. 47.5 billion, respectively. This reflects challenges in the trade regime, which we should urgently address,” President Kenyatta said.
On her part, President Suluhu outlined reforms being undertaken by her administration to enhance ease of doing business and welcomed Kenyan private sector to invest in Tanzania.
“The private sector is key to driving growth, that will deliver these jobs, transform labour market, open up opportunities and unleash entrepreneurial spirit,” President Suluhu said.