Tanzania sold more goods to Kenya in the 10 months to October despite cutting back on consumption of locally made products.

Data by Central Bank of Kenya shows that imports from Tanzania increased by 25.44 per cent to Ksh13.264 billion ($128.6 million) in the January-October 2017 period compared to a year earlier.

This came as Kenya’s exports to Tanzania in the period plunged to a 10-year low amid unresolved trade spats between Nairobi and Dar es Salam, hurting local manufacturers and traders.

Exports to Tanzania in the period to October dropped 18.9 per cent to Ksh23.38 billion ($226.7 million) with trade between the two countries remaining in favour of Kenya despite the gap narrowing.

Tanzania is the fourth largest seller of goods to Kenya behind South Africa (Ksh53.094 billion), Egypt (Ksh28.868 billion) and Uganda (Ksh27.490 billion).

Kenya imported goods valued at Ksh159.660 billion ($1.5 billion) from Africa in the 10-month period, 43.02 per cent or Ksh48.022 billion ($465 million) more than the same period in 2016.

Kenya and Tanzania have had on-and-off trade disputes despite the two belonging to a common market which allows for free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital within six member countries.

Kenya largely imports wheat, textiles and clothing, hides and skin, oil seeds, vegetables, rice, paper and paperboard, footwear, wood, plastic and rubber, among other products from Tanzania.

In recent years, traders have increasingly also been importing cooking gas through the Tanga and Dar es Salaam ports on grounds of cheaper costs and trucking it in through the Namanga border, prompting a temporary ban by the Energy ministry in April 2017.

The ban followed Tanzania slapping a restrictive 75 per cent duty on cigarettes from Kenya, prompting the signing of a temporary win-win trade pact between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his counterpart John Magufuli last July.

The deal in Nairobi eased restrictions on wheat flour and cooking gas imports from Tanzania which extended a similar gesture on milk and cigarettes exports from Kenya.

Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority’s (TFDA)has in the past demanded that Kenyan firms exporting to Tanzania register, re-label and retest goods which have already been certified by authorities such as Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Plant health inspectorate Service (Kephis).

Kenyan products subjected to retesting, re-labelling and registration in Tanzania are largely food, cosmetics, wooden pallets and cigarettes, with retesting process alone costing as much as $1,000 (Ksh103,200), according to KAM.