PUBLISHED ON November 11th, 2014

Trade and investment – Sino- Tanzania relations growing stronger

“TANZANIA and China are good all-weather friends,” said Chinese Vice- President, Li Yuanchao, during a reception in Beijing recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Good all-weather friends the two countries indeed are as attested by the long standing friendship and cooperation that have withstood the test of time, thriving on the strong foundations built by the founding fathers of the nations, namely Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Mao Zedong.

The countries reaffirmed their friendship and bilateral relations commitments during President Jakaya Kikwete’s six-day state visit to China where the world’s second biggest economy pledged more investments and trade with the African country. President Kikwete and his entourage were accorded the warmest of receptions.

The trip indeed started on the right footing,as upon arrival at Beijing International Airport, he was escorted in a motorcade to the state guest house located downtown. This made the Tanzanian president the first visiting head of state or government to be driven in motorcade after the practice was abolished in 2004.

China had been using motorcades to escort visiting dignitaries since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, only to abandon the tradition ten years ago for various reasons including traffic issues. To many, the break from a decade-old protocol was a clear testimony of how seriously the Chinese government took the Tanzanian president’s visit to Beijing.

Apart from the motorcade honour, Mr Kikwete was also conferred with a Honorary Professor award by the China Agricultural University in recognition of his contribution in transforming the agricultural sector and improving lives of Tanzanians. The university stated that the Tanzanian president’s efforts to transform the country and spearhead social economic development hadn’t gone unnoticed, hence the honorary professorship accolade.

During the visit Mr Kikwete met top Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping, his deputy Li Yuanchao and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, among others. He also had the opportunity to meet a section of Chinese business enterprises and potential investors. The message to them was clear; ‘come and invest in Tanzania.’

He elaborated key attributes that make Tanzania an ideal investment destination including sound economic policies, peace and stability, strategic geographic location which sees it bordering six landlocked countries and warm and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries.

At the end of the memorable visit, President Kikwete had witnessed the sealing of multibillion dollars trade agreements and investments deals, that should further enhance the countries’ economic ties and spur Tanzania’s middle income status bid come 2025.

The deals also strengthens China’s position as one of Tanzania’s biggest trade and investment partners. Last year for example, bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to 3.7bn US dollars while Chinese investments in Tanzania reached 2.5bn US dollars with more than 500 Chinese companies doing business in the East African nation.

President Xi Jinping told his Tanzanian counterpart that China is willing to strengthen the 50-year-old ties with the African country in fields including infrastructural construction, aviation and financing. China will also continue to send medical teams and agricultural experts to Tanzania and help the country train personnel.

Opening the third China-Tanzania investment forum that attracted more than 500 Chinese firms and potential investors, Mr Kikwete said the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) had registered projects worth more than 2,490 million US dollars from the Asian economic power house.

“These investments are expected to create more than 77,000 jobs once all of them are fully operational,” said Mr Kikwete, noting that large inflows were recorded in the manufacturing sector which accounted for 354 of the 522 projects registered. Although trade volume between the countries has been on the increase, a lot more can still be done.

The TIC statistics indicate that in 2012/13, the total trade volume was only 1,595.16 million US dollars, of which China’s exports were worth 1,099.42 million US dollars while imports from Tanzania stood at 495.74 million US dollars. It is encouraging to note that the countries have now vowed to address this trade imbalance immediately.

Some of the deals sealed in Beijing include a Memorandum of Understanding on strategic partnership for development of Bagamoyo Port and an Economic Special Zone, that would see the district becoming the hub of investment and trade in the East and Southern Africa region.

Also significant was National Housing Corporation’s (NHC) 1.7 billion US dollars deal with two Chinese companies for three housing projects, among them a financial centre to be built at Upanga in Dar es Salaam. Developing Masaki business area and Salama Creek Satellite City in Kinondoni and Temeke respectively complete the projects’ components.

The projects are expected to somehow ease housing problems in the city. Construction of the mega projects is scheduled to start next year and estimated to take between five and seven years. An agreement for construction of six-lane Kikwete Friendship Highway in Temeke was also signed.

The construction is expected to start soon. The 13 Kilometre stretch will connect Chamazi-Kidula- Kitunda – Banana and Julius Nyerere International Airport. The signing of the deals, once again proved the Chinese government’s commitment to help Tanzania achieve its development goals.

The latest developments are a continuation of the Asian country’s impressive investment record in the country that dates back more than 50 years ago. The highlights of such investments is China’s construction in the 1970s of the Tanzania, Zambia Railways Authority (Tazara).

China provided funding, labour and technical assistance to complete the 1,860 km railway connects landlocked Zambia’s Kapiri Mposhi with Dar es salaam Port in Tanzania. China is also funding construction of the 512 km gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es salaam, which is one of the most important projects undertaken by the government in recent years.

The Project, upon completion later this year would scale up the amount of gas transported to Dar es salaam plants for electricity generation and supply in the country. “We shall see for ourselves what China’s intentions are towards us. We shall not be told by others – the fear of others will not affect Tanzania’s friendship with China.

Not anymore will our friendship with other countries be affected by what their opponents say of them.” The words were uttered by the Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in 1965. Half a century later, the wisdom continues to inform the countries’ bilateral ties.

Source: Tanzania Daily News

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