The Second Tanzania-China Business Forum was recently hosted in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, on June 23rd and 24th 2014.
The forum was organized by the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA), the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the China Africa Business Council (CABC).
The forum was officiated by Hon Mizengo Peter Pinda (MP), the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, and H. E. Li Yuanchao, the Vice President of the People ́s Republic of China.
Also in attendance at the forum were representatives from the Tanzanian Export Zones Processing Authority (EZPA), the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), and representatives of over 100 Chinese companies and 120 Tanzanian companies.
The forum, themed “Tanzania and China Relations: Strengthening Partnerships in Pursuit of Increased Investment and Trade,” was aimed at harnessing the potential for cooperation on investment, trade, and social-economic development between China and Tanzania.
Specifically, the forum was designed to serve as a show-casing platform for those projects seeking to secure investment and trade from both Tanzania and China, and to also serve as an opportunity for both Governments to communicate their current efforts towards enhancing trade and investment between both countries.
Tanzania’s publicized opportunities included those in infrastructure, agriculture, oil, gas and minerals.
The Director General of the EPZA, Adelhelm Meru, for example, detailed in his presentation before the forum that the Tanzanian government has earmarked EPZ/SEZ sites in 20 regions in Tanzania (each with 500 – 9000 hectares), including 22,000 hectares in Bagamoyo.
Meru explained that these specially designated areas are ripe for strategic investment, and assured investors that the Bagamoyo area in particular will become “an industrial and trade centre” due to the pending construction of the country’s largest port and modern airport and railway line.
The Executive Director of TPSF, Godfrey Simbeye, commented after the forum,“We are emphasizing on investments that will make Tanzania prosper….Let us be ambitious and target USD 5 billion in three years from now.”
China, already having agreed to fund the construction of the Bagamoyo port, is now the largest trade partner and one of the top investors in Tanzania.
In 2013 bilateral trade between the two countries reached USD 3.7 billion, and by the end of 2013 China’s investments in Tanzania reached USD 2.5 billion (with nearly 500 Chinese companies doing business in Tanzania).
Beijing, for example, as reported by Open Data for International Development (AidData), was Tanzania’s biggest trading partner in 2012 (accounting for 15 percent of Dar es Salaam’s trade).
Similarly, according to African Economic Outlook (a collaborative research group comprised of the African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme), Chinese firms represent over three-quarters of foreign construction firms presently operating in Tanzania.
The first Tanzania-China Business Forum was held in China in October 2013. At that forum, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mizengo Pinda, and the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing, witnessed as Chinese and Tanzanian companies signed seven Memoranda of Understanding valued at billions of dollars.