Friday, January 19, 2018

Export trade needs to be revisited and diversified

According to the Bank of Tanzania’s Economic and Operations Annual Report for 2016/2017 released last week, gold accounted for 98 per cent of the country’s exports to Switzerland in 2016, valued at $753 million.

Also, exports to Switzerland accounted for 16.2 per cent of all the goods which Tanzania sold abroad in 2016. Other major buyers from Tanzania that year included India (14.8 per cent), South Africa (13 per cent), China (7.5 per cent), Kenya (6.6 per cent), DR Congo (6.2 per cent) and Belgium (6.0 per cent).

Gold was Tanzania’s most sought-after export item. Others were mainly agricultural goods such as cotton yarn, coffee, vegetable oil, legumes, onions, soybeans and tea.

One crucial fact screaming for attention here is that there is too much dependence on gold when it comes to Tanzania’s exports.

This calls for urgent and bold steps that could enable the country to further diversify its export items.

In that regard, our experts in commerce and related fields need to work harder to ensure that Tanzania earns more from assorted exports on a sustainable basis.

Key areas that the country needs to focus on for starters are Agriculture and Education. Given the country’s great potential in agriculture, it is past high time that our experts revisited the sector to identify where improvements can be made in terms of good practice farming to boost agro-productivity.

We should also identify crops that show promise in terms of global demand – and consider focusing on them accordingly.

Tanzania also needs to invest more in the right kind of education that produces highly competent experts in economic production, and in stimulating high-potential but little-tapped potential exports such as services, knowledge and skills.

With commitment and a clear vision, Tanzania stands huge chances of putting right its trade balance – and other socio-economic imbalances that still plague the people.