File photo shows the port of Dar es Salaam, capital of Tanzania. (GAO CHUNJU / XINHUA)
HONG KONG - Tanzania, one of the countries involved in the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, aims to step up cooperation with Hong Kong in investments and youth communication, and use the special administrative region as a hub to boost trade with China and other Asian nations.
Mbelwa Kairuki, Tanzania’s ambassador to China, said in Hong Kong on Thursday that Hong Kong entrepreneurs and students are welcome to visit the east African nation, formerly known as Tanganyika, to learn more about the country and its business environment.
Tanzania, a mountainous country with an economy heavily reliant on agriculture and counts on China as one of its biggest trading partners, is seeking more export opportunities by selling more farm products, such as soybeans and coffee beans, to China, Kairuki said.
China became Tanzania’s top foreign investor and trading partner four years ago as a result of the BRI
Eddie Leung Tin-fu - president of Paper Communication Exhibition Services, which specializes in organizing trade exhibitions - said although Tanzania has built up strong trade links with the Chinese mainland, it’s not a traditional investment destination for Hong Kong businesspeople in Africa.
“At present, there’s only small-scale trading between private sectors in Hong Kong and Tanzania,” he said. “But, seeing abundant resources there, which could provide raw materials for manufacturing industries, we’re bullish about future cooperation.”
Leung will lead a Hong Kong business delegation to Tanzania at the end of this month to explore potential investment and travel opportunities.
He said they’ll have initial discussions with Tanzanian enterprises to get to know more about the country’s investment climate, project details and tax benefits.
China became Tanzania’s top foreign investor and trading partner four years ago as a result of the BRI.
According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, the total value of Chinese investments in Tanzania had exceeded US$7 billion in April, with bilateral trade hitting nearly US$4 billion in 2018.
Tanzania’s gross domestic product is estimated to be US$186 billion this year, with industry, construction and tourism also emerging as major components of the national economy.
Kairuki told China Daily Tanzania will take part in the second China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in November, showcasing various products to the Chinese market. Tanzania is also in talks with mainland coffee chain Luckin Coffee on supplying raw materials to the Xiamen-based group.
The ambassador refuted claims that the influx of Chinese investments in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa will create a “debt trap” for African states and other developing nations as claimed by some media reports.
“Some media organizations are just trying to damage our relations with China,” Kairuki said.
"This is pure investment. This is investors bringing capital. The government is not bringing a single cent. So how can it be a debt trap?"
According to him, the Tanzanian government is still in talks with the investor China Merchants Port Holdings on the Bagamoyo Port project which was suspended by Tanzanian President John Magufuli for some disagreements over the terms.
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