Ethiopia and Kenya have finally sealed a deal for a free trade area projected to make cross-border business dealings easier.
The signing of an operational guiding document, the Moyale One Stop Border Post Procedure Manual, in Addis Ababa last week is expected to give the neighbouring countries a competitive edge with regard to goods traded.
The deal seeks to encourage small-scale traders by developing a simplified framework to facilitate their business activities at the border.
It will also help to harmonise Kenya and Ethiopia's trade regimes, particularly on agricultural products, in order to allow citizens from both countries to conduct business beyond the borders.
According to a press statement, Interior ministry Chief Administrative Secretary Wilson Njenga led the Kenyan delegation to Addis Ababa. He said the new deal is a step forward in enhancing cross-border trade and movement of people.
"Today's event marks an important milestone in managing our borders as it is a culmination of meetings and deliberations between our two governments in ensuring that the Moyale Ones Stop Border Post (OSBP) is operational," Mr Njenga said.
The OSBP, he said, will be relied on by the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project as it will ensure growth from the accelerated services and improved infrastructure.
He said it will lead to better services through improved infrastructure such as transport and integrated ICT.
The OSPB manual is expected to provide a structured framework for both countries to make cooperation easier. For instance, it includes cooperation on health threats like implementing Covid-19 protocols.
Both governments also agreed on the need to reopen the Moyale border post to encourage legitimate trade and movement of people, while also mitigating security issues like human and drug trafficking.
The latest development is the culmination of a series of negotiations for bilateral free trade between the two countries initiated by Trademark East Africa.