Kenya and Tanzania have set December as the time when the two neighbouring countries will have resolved most of the non-tariff barriers affecting cross-border trade.

The decision arose from a meeting of the Joint Commission on Cooperation (JCC), a bilateral body made up of officials from the two countries created to resolve issues affecting the areas of cooperation.

The five-day meeting in Nairobi, which concluded on Tuesday, August 25, 2021, indicated that nearly half of the barriers that have consistently plagued trade between the two countries have been resolved and that the rest would be eliminated within the next four months.

“On trade, the JCC noted the progress made by the Joint Trade Committee in addressing 30 of the 64 challenges facing bilateral relations and called for the remaining 34 issues to be resolved by the end of December 2021,” a message joint of the JCC said Tuesday.

The meeting is chaired jointly by Foreign Ministers Raychelle Omamo of Kenya and Liberata Mulamula of Tanzania, while the Trade Committee is led by Commerce Ministers Betty Maina of Kenya and Prof Kitila Mkumbo of Tanzania.

In June, a month after Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu’s state visit to Kenya, the committee identified 60 tariff and non-tariff barriers between the two countries.

Among those resolved are the customs clearance of soft drinks produced in their territories, the removal of inspection fees on processed products with a standardization mark including wheat flour, and the elimination of charges for roaming calls following the entry of Tanzania into the common network area.

Last week, officials said there would also be preferential treatment on cement produced in their territories and that Tanzania would install the single window system as Kenya did to allow for faster customs clearance of goods. In addition, countries would harmonize standardization with veterinary products valid for export for up to 30 days. A standing committee has also been set up to monitor the implementation of the decisions taken.

The countries’ top diplomats on Tuesday, said they will use the next four months to sort out the remaining crucial areas, including harmonizing health certification, especially in times of Covid-19.

Both countries have improved policies on managing the pandemic, especially after the death of former Tanzania president John Pombe Magufuli, who said the coronavirus had been eliminated in the country.