Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli and his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr Truong Tan Sang, yesterday agreed on trade relations targeting to expand trade volume between the two countries from current US$300 million (Sh639 billion) to US $1 billion (Sh2 trillion) annually from next year.
To achieve the target, the two presidents signed an agreement to waive double taxation imposed on goods traded between the two countries. In line with this, Tanzania also signed with the Vietnamese government a memorandum of understanding to strengthen business and investments between the two countries.
The occasion was coloured by a military parade staged outside the State House as President Truong arrived and walked on the red carpet towards the podium just few steps from the main gate to the State House.
With his host, Dr Magufuli, the Vietnamese leader stood at the podium to receive a 21-gun salute before proceeding to the State House where the signing ceremony was held.
Dr Magufuli noted that the two countries have agreed to improve relations, with a focus on trade and industrial production.
Statistics shows that prior to 2009, the trade volume between Tanzania and Vietnam stood at between US$30 million (Sh6.39 billion) and $40 million (Sh8 billion).
The volume grew to over US$100 in 2010 and it reached US$105 million in 2013.
He called on Tanzanians to borrow a leaf from Vietnam which has made tremendous development strides in industrial production and agriculture.
Dr Magufuli wondered how Vietnam, which is three times smaller than Tanzania and with a population of over 90 million (about twice that of Tanzania), has managed to attain such economic development.
He further observed that Tanzania has more than 22 million head of cattle—the second largest number of these animals in the world—and yet it doesn’t have a shoe industry like Vietnam.
“This is a challenge to us; it means we should strive to follow their footsteps…our 50-year-old relations should be utilised so that we boost our country’s economic development,” said Dr Magufuli.
Mr Truong recalled that Tanzania relentlessly helped Vietnam in its struggle for independence. He vowed to ensure that the relations between the two countries move further to open up more potentials in trade, investment, communications and agriculture.
Later in the evening when he met with businesspersons of both countries, he said due to the political will that President Magufuli had shown, Vietnam is looking forward to seeing Tanzania become a bridge for products from Vietnam to other East African countries. He pledged to encourage Vietnamese investors to come to Tanzania as the two countries have already opened up more opportunities for them.
“Tanzania is among the few countries that we (Vietnamese government) have interest in; we will export many products to Tanzania,” he affirmed.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, told the Vietnamese investors that Tanzania has undertaken major reforms in the legal, fiscal and public service sectors.
Over the last decade, a number of policies and legislations have been put in place to further improve the investment climate, promote growth and improve livelihoods.
So far, the country has attracted valuable investments from Vietnam including the Viettel Tanzania Limited investment in second, third and third generation telecommunication services under the Halotel brand.
“I therefore encourage you to invest and do business in Tanzania and capitalise on these existing good relations between our countries…
Tanzania is more than ready to do business with you,” he said. Speaking on behalf of the local business community, Mr Reginald Mengi, chairman of Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), said Tanzania admires Vietnam’s successes especially in the agricultural sector, food processing and textile industries.
“Since our countries cultivate similar crops, they could cooperate in the research and development space to help Tanzania achieve higher yields of crops,” he said.
The members of the business community said they are hopeful that through the cooperation Tanzania could achieve success in the agro-processing industry, the sector in which Vietnam has achieved commendable advances.