Tanzania Trading to Allow Increased Imports from EAC

Several recent reports have indicated that the Tanzania trading sector is prepared to open its doors and allow more import goods into the country from within the East African Community (EAC), thus supporting the trading bloc’s pursuit of a free market.

According to these reports, the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) has been directed by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), the country’s standards regulator, to allow goods into the country that have been cleared as fit for consumption by several different national quality bodies of the EAC member states.

As a result of this decision by the TBS, goods that have been manufactured within the EAC will be allowed to be traded freely in Tanzania as long as they have been issued standardization marks by the national quality regulators of the countries of origin.

Until recently, Tanzania has been the only EAC country which has required addition testing on imported goods that have already been certified as safe by their countries of origin; without this test, the goods would not allowed entry into the country for trading or other purposes.

Prior to this decision, several manufacturers had expressed concern that, while the TBS was typically fairly lenient on the import of goods from within the region, the TFDA, which works under the TBS, has been especially strict on food- and drug-related products, thus the decision to relax market entry rules has is receiving a warm welcome from traders in the EAC region.

“Our members who have been complaining that TFDA subjects their exports to unnecessary delays through further tests can now breathe a sigh of relief following the directive,” says statement from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).

In addition to the relief felt by some of the EAC member countries, the business community is also advising that the implementation of the new system proceed with caution in order to protect itself from potential profiteers. 

As reported by the Daily Monitor, Vimal Shah, the KAM national chairman has indicated that increased cross-border surveillance system and cooperation among national standards as well as quality bodies will be necessary and should be employed in order to guarantee that the regional market does not become saturated with substandard goods from counterfeiters, who are looking to take advantage of relaxed rules.

“It is very easy for clever individuals to invent their own way of printing the marks in one country and pass them off as the authorized standardization mark if the national standards bodies to not work together in,” he said.