CHINA> Commentary
Hu's visit enhances economic ties with Tanzania
Updated: 2009-02-11 14:14

DAR ES SALAAM  -- Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to Tanzania will further enhance bilateral economic cooperation and help both countries tide over global financial crisis,  said a senior Tanzanian investment official in a recent interview with Xinhua.

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Emmanuel Ole Naiko, executive director of Tanzania's Investment Center, said Tanzania and China will not only overcome the international financial crisis through cooperation of mutual benefit, but also deepen long-standing friendship between the two countries.

Hu's visit will testify to China's pledge to forge ahead with its strategic partnership with Africa and African countries, he said.

Trade and investment from Asian countries with their African counterparts, including Tanzania, have seen a continuous increase over the past few years, particularly since the 2006 China-Africa Summit held in Beijing, Ole Naiko added. .

Trade volumes between China and Africa reached over 100 billion US dollars last year, up from 20 billion dollars in 2002, he noted.

The investment chief also brushed aside allegations that China was just chasing after Africa's natural resources, citing examples of China's investment and assistance in many other fields such as agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and mineral industry.

He said the allegation is "not true," recalling the Tanzania-Zambia Railway line and the China-Tanzania Friendship Textile Mill, both built in the 1960s with Chinese aid.

Ole Naiko said he is looking forward to more Chinese investment in the form of technology, expertise and finance transfers in agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.

"Agriculture and agro-industry are important to food security," he said. "We need to produce more grain crops and cash crops such as tea, cotton and coffee."

"This kind of industry will put added-value to our export-oriented cash crops. We hope China could further assist us in such areas," he added.

Food accounts for about 55.9 percent in the basket of commodity items which are put together for the calculation of Tanzania's inflation rate through a national consumer prices index.

An 18.6-percent food inflation pushed up the country's inflation to 13.5 percent last December.

Likewise, tourism industry also needs special investment from China, Ole Naiko said, adding tourism has played an increasingly important role in Tanzania's economic growth over the past three years.

"Tanzania has lots of natural beauties needed to be diversified so as to draw more tourists," he said. "We need more star-rated hotels in sightseeing areas and we plan to promote tourism in big cities."

Mining industries also expect Chinese investment, including petroleum and gas exploitation, the investment chief said, adding "If somebody helps you to develop natural resources, then what's wrong with it?"

As an investment promoter and a policy advocate in Tanzania, his center will work hard to improve the investment environment to attract more investors from home and abroad, he said.

Hu arrived in Saudi Arabia Tuesday for a five-nation tour. The week-long trip will also take him to Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius.

The visit is aimed to further consolidate China's friendship and cooperation with these countries, enhance cooperation with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and promoting the implementation of the measures announced at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu has said.