Trade between Tanzania and its largest import-export partner, China, skyrocketed by nearly 25 per cent in 2022, as the two parties continue to reinforce diplomatic ties after 60 years of cooperation.
Trade figures reached $8.32 billion in 2022, said Tanzanian ambassador to Beijing, Mbelwa Kairuki in February, addressing an audience in Hong Kong while promoting trade and investment.
China-Tanzania cooperation first began in the early 1960s, and the pair have enjoyed healthy ties since then.
Machinery, motor vehicles, electronics, steel and textiles made up the majority of China’s export goods to Tanzania in 2022, according to statistics published by Trading Economics.
Chinese imports from the developing east African economy include copper ore, oily nut varieties such as Brazil and cashew, and petroleum.
In November 2021, Tanzanian leader, Samia Suluhu Hassan, travelled to China for the first time since replacing former president, John Magufuli, who passed away while in office.
During her visit, Hassan and Chinese president, Xi Jinping, hammered out at least 15 strategic agreements, including a project that would see significant upgrades to the Chinese-manufactured Tanzanian-Zambian (Tazara) railway.
The line was completed in 1975 and helped landlocked Zambia reduce economic reliance on goods and services imported from South Africa in the apartheid era and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).
The two trade partners agreed to reduce the export tariff on green crabs from seven per cent to tax-free. Tanzania began exporting marine green crabs to China two years ago and demand for the crustacean has grown steadily.
A duty-free shipment of 950 kilograms of Tanzanian green crab to Shanghai saves operators roughly $587, according to Chinese state media.
Presidents Hassan and Xi also agreed to upgrade China-Tanzania relations to a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership”, one of the most elevated diplomatic levels China affords to its partners, according to the South China Morning Post.
Tanzania shares its borders with eight countries, six of which (Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo) rely on the strategically located port and freight infrastructure of Tanzania’s capital city, Dar es Salaam.
Ambassador Kairuki highlighted the country’s connectivity in Africa and its growing young population as evidence of Tanzania’s economic potential (of its 62 million citizens, roughly two-thirds were born after the millennium).
Tanzania has made steady socio-economic progress in recent years. The national gross domestic income per capita reached $1 080 in 2020.
This is enough for Tanzania to graduate from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country in 2020, where it has remained.