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Uganda, Tanzania Discuss Non-Tariff Barriers, Joint Projects

Tanzania's Director for African Affairs, Naimi Sweetie Aziz admits that there are several outstanding issues between the two countries that must be resolved for the sake of the people. On the issue of non-trade barriers, Minister Mulimba says there is need for proper coordination between ministries, departments and agencies of the governments.

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Uganda and Tanzania have outlined several measures that are aimed at improving the faltering trade relations between the two countries.

Tanzania, as a country, has arguably been the most protective of its local industry and citizens against competition since the East African Community was revived 21 years ago.

It has in recent years confiscated and destroyed agricultural products imported from the EAC countries on top of blocking others, like sugar and grain from Uganda.

But Uganda and other countries are also not entirely clean, as they too have always introduced various trade barriers, including ungazetted checkpoints.

South Sudan is the most recent EAC partner state to secure agreements with other East African members, citizens to migrate and work in the countries without paying for a work permit.

As the Uganda-Tanzania Joint Permanent Commission meets in Kampala have outstanding issues between them, the government has admitted the need to lift the travel and work restrictions between the two countries and within the greater EACT, to boost growth.

The Director for Citizenship and Migration General Apollo Kasiita Gowa says the two countries do not have a deal between themselves on work permits despite the long-standing political and economic relations.

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This comes as the two countries are implementing joint projects, especially the East African Crude Oil Pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania.

Under the terms of the agreement, citizens of either country are supposed to be treated under the same national laws, including accessing work opportunities.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter Mulimba says there are several outstanding issues that are currently being addressed, and that within a short time they will be overcome.

He gives the example of the Tanzania Investment Authority and the Tanzania Ports Authority that are establishing offices in Uganda, as part of measures to make trade and investment across the border easy.

This is part of the implementation of the directives by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan after their meeting at a business forum in Tanzania in November.

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The Joint Permanent Commission brings together ministers and technical officials in in various ministries from both countries, led by the ministers in charge of foreign affairs, to discuss issues affecting the two bilaterally.

The three-day JPC meeting will focus on trade, industry and infrastructure, mainly on projects like oil and gas and rail projects, as well as cross-border trade. Others are in the areas of migration, defense and security, agriculture and tourism among others.

Tanzania is constructing the longest Standard Gauge Railway in the region to-date, from the coast to the Lake Victoria port of Mwanza, which Is planned to connect to waterways to Uganda and Kenya.

Ambassador Naimi Sweetie Hamza Aziz, Director African Affairs at Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says at the end of the three days at least six agreements could be signed between the two countries. She admits that there are several outstanding issues between the two countries that must be resolved for the sake of the people. 

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On the issue of non-trade barriers, Minister Mulimba says there is need for proper coordination between ministries, departments and agencies of the governments.

This means that policies to be put in place will not be contradictory to one another, as the different MDA’s are in agreement with each other.

He mentions the current fuel crisis in Uganda which is a result of uncoordinated policies between the ministries of health, trade and custom.However, Mulimba says even with good relations, NTBs will always emerge between the countries.

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