FROM AGGREY MUTAMBO
Kenya has signed important transport, safety and trade agreements with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, signaling an effort to improve the low commercial numbers between them.
After a bilateral meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his host Felix Tshisekedi, the two sides signed a new contract on Wednesday to handle cargo from the port of Mombasa, which grants the Democratic Republic of the Congo certain privileges to use Kenyan facilities.
Kenya also offered to open diplomatic outposts in Goma and Lubumbashi in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which President Kenyatta said would facilitate consular services for traders.
The Ocean Freight Management Agreement, which has been revised from previous agreements, will provide the basic legal framework for handling all cargo coming through Mombasa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
President Kenyatta said at a joint press conference that Nairobi is trying to “bring the region closer together so that we can tackle our common problems together”.
When fully implemented, the agreement will eliminate delays in imports into the DRC by establishing clearing channels for the goods for the DRC market. No further details were released, but officials had suggested that the agreement could include specialized shipyards for goods from the Congo and the country’s officials deployed in Kenyan ports to expedite the clearance of goods.
The move came when Kenya expressed a desire to improve its trade with the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Sh 1.8 billion last year, of which 70 percent were goods sold to the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And although the country relies on East African seaports for imports, Mombasa handles less than 15 percent of the proportion of goods shipped to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Beira in Mozambique having the largest share.
President Kenyatta said: “I believe that our commonality provides us with a very good opportunity to deepen our relationships as we work together to achieve these goals for the people of our respective countries. I want one thing for both of us [technical] Teams we need to work on are supposed to make sure we solve the problem that our employees can travel between our two countries. “
An adequate framework for cargo handling also means that both sides harmonize the charges for goods imported into their territory. Kenyan drivers recently complained about abrupt charges in the delivery of goods to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The two countries have a bilateral air transport agreement, and although they had previously made agreements to move cargo, players often complained of severe non-tariff trade barriers. The new deal, officials say, should fix the anomalies.
“As we move towards deeper integration not only of our region but also of the continent, we should be able to relax the restrictions on visas and other issues, and I look forward to working with you to make it easier for us can do, “said the President. Who is on a three-day state visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said.
The head of state also witnessed the signing of a defense cooperation agreement, which includes policing, the war on terrorism, maritime and aviation security and immigration. This will also address future customs issues, especially before the DRC joins the EAC.
The agreement should include structured cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, arms smuggling, regulated immigration, customs control and cybersecurity.
Kenya has traditionally supported peace offers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has survived several years of war. In 2013, Kenya hosted Congolese parties when they signed a peace agreement with rebel group M23.
Nairobi sees the still young stability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a good reason to expand business opportunities.
The General Cooperation Agreement between the two, according to a State House statement, “will provide a framework through which the parties will promote economic, technical, scientific and socio-cultural cooperation based on the principles of sovereign equality and mutual benefit. ”
Commerce, agriculture, livestock and fisheries, finance, environmental protection, education and mining were listed.