Tanzania and the United Kingdom yesterday launched the first ever business forum that would see Tanzania’s products and commodities becoming more visible in UK’s shelves.
Currently, the balance of trade between the two countries remains weak, with the value of Tanzania’s exports to the UK standing at a mere £29 million, while its imports worth £127 million.
To raise Tanzania’s exports to the UK, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa urged the UK to bring in capital and inject it into various sectors especially in value addition.
The Premier expressed the government’s commitment to exploring financing options through an engagement with a visiting representative from UK Export Finance (UKEF).
Currently, UKEF offers over £2.5 billion risk cover for Tanzania through which yesterday’s forum might catalyse the crude oil pipeline project.
Mr Majaliwa said UK-funded technical assistance and analysis will help to inform the priotisation of economic reforms that the private sector could benefit from. He said Tanzania will continue to create an enabling business environment to increase investor’s confidence.
The UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Tanzania, Mr John Woodcock, expressed commitment of his country to increasing Tanzania’s exports to the UK market. He said they were determined to empower local businesses through improvement of their skills.
Mr Woodcock also said the UK will maximize available opportunities to increase their investments in Tanzania with a view of boosting Tanzania’s economy. “Our particular focus will be on supporting quality and sustainable UK investments into Tanzania that create jobs, inclusive economic growth and mutual prosperity,” said Mr Woodcock.
In his speech, Mr Majaliwa noted that such areas as work permits and tax had increased the interest of international investors in the country.
Recent months, he said, have seen a surge in investments by British firms, with Kilombero Sugar announcing its $238 million expansion project. He also pointed out the Kabanga Nickel which had recently received their special mining licence, unlocking large-scale investment for many years to come.
For his part, Industry and Trade minister Kitila Mkumbo said it was the government’s wish to see more Tanzania’s products sold in the UK market.
“The trade volume between Tanzania and the UK is relatively large. But it is one-sided as it favours the UK more. We import more than what we export,” said Prof Mkumbo.
The UK is the second, after China, leading foreign investors in Tanzania, with its investment value standing at $6 billion, below China’s $7.8 billion, according to statistics.
The forum that was attended by over 20 companies from the UK, 150 British and Tanzanian (joint ventures) companies attending in- person and a further 300 participating virtually.
The forum was organised by TanTrade, the British High Commission, the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce.