Enterprise Television – Kenya’s Push to Lower Regional Tariffs Hits Snag
Kenyan exports to the region are likely to continue attracting high tariffs as East African Community member states go slow on the proposed review of the Common External Tariff.
Report reveals some countries, such as Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have turned their attention to the promise of lower tariffs proposed under the nascent African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner for Customs and Excise, Ben Usaje said EAC countries were struggling with their own domestic fiscal demands, and that was why they were shelving the long-awaited review of the Common External Tariff (CET).
According to him, besides the other four EAC member states, Kenya, the region’s biggest economy and which has been pushing for a review of the tariff, was also grappling with its own challenges, including implementation of the recently passed value added tax (VAT) regulations.
Meanwhile, Kenya have been pushing for a fourth structure in the tax band, where final products produced through raw materials imported from foreign markets outside the EAC domain are treated in the same way as final products manufactured using local raw materials.
These would be subjected to a 25 per cent tariff instead of the current 30 per cent they currently attract.
“The common narrative in East Africa is that Tanzania has been the stumbling block of a review of the CET because of its constant levy disputes with Kenya, but that is not the case,” said Usaje.
In the latest trade spat, Usaje confirmed Tanzania would continue levying 25 per cent tax on confectioneries from Kenya until it was satisfied that the industrial sugar used to manufacture the sweets, biscuits and chocolates is not zero-rated.
The Common External Tariff (CET) review was supposed to be completed by June 1, 2019, but Usaje said the deadline could be extended indefinitely.
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