Tanzania, Switzerland sign deal to boost bilateral trade

In strengthening trade ties Tanzania and Switzerland opened their joint Chamber of Commerce on February 27, 2023. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The areas agreed upon include value addition, increasing mineral trade volume, strengthening trade links, enhancing technology transfer, and strengthening air transport ties

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania and Switzerland have agreed on key issues to boost bilateral trade, which currently stands at $415 million (about Sh954.5 billion).

The areas agreed upon include value addition, increasing mineral trade volume, strengthening trade links, enhancing technology transfer, and strengthening air transport ties., The Citizen understands.

Going by the data from the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security, trade volume between the two countries decreased by $183.3 million (about Sh421.6 billion) last year compared to a year before.

The trade volume fell from $598.3 million (about Sh1.4 trillion) in 2021 to $415 million (about Sh954.5 billion) last year, a trend that calls for an intervention from both parties. The Citizen’s efforts to establish the triggering factors for a downward trend proved futile. Despite a downward trend, trade between the two is still in favour of Tanzania, with last year’s exports to Switzerland being quoted at $376 million (about Sh864.8 billion), far above the comparable imports of $39 million (about Sh89.7 billion).

While Tanzania exports, among others, minerals and agricultural products to Switzerland, the latter exports to the formal, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries products such as automatic data processing machines as well as machines, appliances and electronics.

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) chairperson Angelina Ngalula said in last week’s meeting with Switzerland State Secretary for Economic Affairs Helene Artieda, they agreed that value addition will increase the value of the country’s goods. Despite the bilateral trade being in favour of Tanzania, Ms Ngalula said: “We still export raw materials and import finished goods.”

This suggests that if Tanzania embraces value addition, it will be in a better position to do even better. Ms Ngalula also said that as long as minerals are in high demand in Switzerland, the two countries agreed that more of the product should be exported.

On top of that, they agreed that strengthening the air transport network between the two will stimulate the economy through trade and tourism. Again, they said that since Switzerland is technologically more advanced than Tanzania, technology transfer will shape the country’s production of goods and services.

“Above all, we need to extend our relations from development projects to strong trade ties,” concluded Ms Ngalula.

The discussion on how to boost trade came shortly after the official launch of the Switzerland–Tanzania Chamber of Commerce (STCC), a part of wider efforts to boost trade between the two countries. For her part, Ms Artieda, said the Chamber of Commerce could serve as a platform for businesses from Switzerland and Tanzania to explore new opportunities for growth and development.

She went on to say that the new development could serve as an entry point for new investors and businesses interested in Tanzania.

“The establishment of the Swiss-Tanzania Chamber of Commerce is a crucial step towards our shared endeavour of closer economic ties,” said Ms Artieda.

She went on to add: “The launch of the chamber of commerce is a reflection of the growing significance of Tanzania as a trade partner and destination for Swiss investment.” She commended the concerted efforts made to improve the business environment in Tanzania and attract foreign companies and foreign investments in the country.

“Good progress has been achieved already, but we all know that more can and should be done in order to fully unlock the country’s true potential for the greater good of all,” observed Ms Artieda.

Speaking last week during the launch of STCC, Ambassador of Switzerland to Tanzania Didier Chassot exuded his optimism that STCC will promote economic cooperation and opportunities between the two countries.

“I am optimistic the STCC will act as a gateway for Swiss and Tanzanian businesses to spur investments to Tanzania and advance economic relations,” asserted Mr Chassot.

The STCC will be a platform for organisations to connect and exchange, develop business and investment opportunities, and build and maintain economic bonds between the two countries.

Investment, Trade and Industry deputy minister Exaud Kigahe urged the business communities of Tanzania and Switzerland to use the just-launched chamber of commerce as a bridge to facilitate win-win business between the two parties.

“With the inauguration of this chamber of commerce, we hope the interests of companies and investors from both countries will be well represented,” said Mr Kigahe at the unveiling of the STCC here in the city. This, he added, will even attract more businesses and make it easier for them to access the Tanzanian-Swiss markets, continuing to strengthen economic cooperation.

He welcomed the Swiss companies to come and invest in the sectors of manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, fisheries, livestock, mineral processing, pharmaceuticals, and the blue economy. “Tanzania is a good place for investment, and I am convinced Tanzania’s commercial bonds with Switzerland have a promising future,” pointed out Mr Kigahe. Switzerland and Tanzania have a long history of mutually fruitful collaboration and people-to-people relations dating back nearly 100 years. Over the decades, the two countries have developed strong partnerships through political exchanges, development, and economic cooperation.