Embargo deflowered Tanzania
Nairobi – In a seeming replay of trade warfare among original East African Community member states that resulted in its collapse in 1977, Tanzania and Kenya are involved in a fresh row that could revive the hostile memories.
Tanzania is accusing Kenya of trying to sabotage its flower industry.
For nearly two years now, Kenya has imposed a ban on the overseas export of Tanzanian cut flowers through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, while the latter has in turn put up trade obstacles to keep Kenyan products out of their country.
Since the collapse of East Africa Union founded in 1967, Tanzania and Uganda blamed Kenya for her aggressive business and bully tactics, a situation that resulted into Tanzania playing a passive role even after the revival of the regional economic block in 2000 that now includes Burundi and Rwanda.
Tanzania has since joined the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) where she plays an active role.
Kenya banned the export of Tanzania’s cut flowers through her main airport on May 10, 2011.
The country cited phytosanitary reasons, demanding an official Pest Risk Analysis of one of the flower farms.
That analysis was submitted, but Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services reportedly did not sign a subsequent quarantine agreement, resulting in the current deadlock.
Kenya’s horticulture industry, boosted by the flower sector, currently ranks as one of the economy’s fastest growing industries ‑ the third largest foreign exchange earner after tourism and tea.
Kenya views Tanzania’s rising flower sector as a threat to its blossoming industry that they have dominated in the whole of Africa for years.
Media reports in Kenya recently reported that flower farmers are moving to exploit a huge market potential by increasing their flower exports to the United States.
According to Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Officer, Jane Ngige, Kenyan farmers are seeking ways to increase their exports to the US markets, which have remained significantly low in the last two years.
“We’ve been exporting flowers to the US for a while now, but the quantities are not as significant as they should be,” Ngige told The Southern Times.
Tanzania’s flower sector has been suffering significantly because of the recent quarrel.
Its multi-million cut flower industry is highly dependent on the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in neighbouring Kenya.