By Masato Masato
BUSINESS leaders had extensive talks with Vietnamese President Truong Tang Sang in Dar es Salaam yesterday, with various resolutions reached on how the two countries can jointly and profitably tap the existing business opportunities.
Industry, Trade and Investment Minister Charles Mwijage and his Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing counterpart Mwigulu Nchemba also attended the closed door talks in a Dar es Salaam hotel.
Mr Mwigulu, addressing reporters, described the talks as fruitful, citing edible oil and sugar production as well as sustainable fishing as the areas that received top priority. "We have big domestic market for edible oil. We import over 80 per cent of all oil that we consume in the country," Mr Mwigulu said.
He said the two countries will partner in investing heavily in agro-processing industries, noting that they have agreed to establish an official system of sharing information on existing business opportunities.
Minister Mwijage said Tanzania has a lot to learn from Vietnam on cashew nut growing and processing. The Asian country, although it gets its cashew seeds from Tanzania, it has developed the cash industry, currently producing 300,000 tonnes, annually.
The minister also said during the talks the two countries agreed to cooperate in establishing a tobacco factory in Tabora. "Vietnam has 18 cigarette industries, which manufacture domestic and international brands.
We want to borrow a leaf from their expertise." Tanzania Private Sector Foundation Chairman Reginald Mengi and other leaders of business associations declined comment. President Sang concluded his four-day state visit in the country yesterday.
During his tour of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) Headquarters in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, the visiting Vietnamese leader promised to persuade more investors from his country to come to Tanzania.
"I congratulate you for your elaborate industrialisation drive and the incentives that you offer to investors. Next time, I visit Tanzania, I will hopefully meet more Vietnamese investors," said President Sang, noting that Halotel, the only Vietnamese firm in the country, with 700 million US dollars (over 1.4trn/-) investment has set the precedence that many others will emulate.
President Sang counselled the government to improve incentives and facilitation to attract the limited investment capitals for which all countries in the world compete.
"There is stiff competition for investment resources in the world and it's only countries that provide the best facilitation that will receive most of the resources," he said.
Tanzania has started on the right footing, President Sang remarked, noting that Hanoi started its Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the same way but the programmes have burgeoned today to generate over 150 billion US dollars (300trn/-) in sales revenues.
In his presentation, Mr Simbakalia said the country's EPZs and SEZs have so far created over 36,000 jobs, with over 1.3 billion US dollars (about 2.7 trilion/-) in export revenues.
Tanzanians dominate EPZs/SEZs investments with 44 per cent while foreign investors and joint ventures constitute 42 and 14 per cent respectively. He said the authority's second five-year strategic plan focuses on industrialisation as the country's top economic priority, with agro-processing, textiles, leather processing, mineral processing, construction materials and petrochemicals dominating.