IN September and November 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st- Century Maritime Silk Road successively, which are known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Focusing on policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, the BRI has been transformed from ideas into concrete actions and from an initiative to an international public good as well as a platform for global cooperation with worldwide popularity.
Up to now, China has signed over 200 cooperation documents with 152 countries and 32 international organisations under the BRI framework.
The BRI originated from China, but its opportunities and fruits belong to the world. In the past decade, world-class major projects have been completed one after another under the BRI framework, including the China-Laos Railway, Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway, the Hungarian-Serbia Railway, the Haifa Port of Israel and the Piraeus Port of Greece.
The industrial chain and supply chain cooperation has become increasingly closer. From 2013 to 2022, the annual import and export volume of trade in goods and non-financial direct investment between China and the countries along the Belt and Road had increased by 8.6 and 5.8 per cent on average respectively, while the cumulative two-way investment had exceeded US$270 billion.
According to a report of the World Bank, the BRI increased the trade volume and foreign investment in participating countries by 4.1 and 5 per cent respectively and increased the GDP of lowincome countries by 3.4 per cent. Africa is an active and important BRI participant.
During the past decade, the cumulative volume of China Africa trade has exceeded US$2 trillion and China’s imports of African agricultural products have grown at an average annual rate of 11.4 per cent.
Sixteen agricultural products from 11 African countries have gained access to the Chinese market through the “green lanes” and 21 African countries have been granted zero-tariff treatment for 98 per cent of their taxable items exported to China.
Over the past 10 years, China’s FDI flows to Africa have exceeded US$30 billion in total and Chinese companies have participated in the construction of over 6,000 kilometers of railways, 6,000-plus kilometers of roads and more than 80 large-scale power facilities in Africa. China and Tanzania have been strengthening their Belt and Road cooperation in recent years.
The Chinese government and the three successive governments of Tanzania led by President Jakaya Kikwete, the late President John Magufuli and President Samia Suluhu Hassan have been firmly supporting each other, increasing high-level exchanges and promoting synergy between the BRI and Tanzania Development Vision 2025, thereby providing strong political driving force to the development of bilateral relations and the economic and trade cooperation.
In particular, during President Samia’s historic visit to China in November 2022, they jointly announced the elevation of China-Tanzania relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and agreed to deepen the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries, thereby ushering in a new stage in the development of the bilateral relations and friendly cooperation.
In addition, China signed the Memorandums of Understanding with Tanzania on strengthening investment cooperation in the field of digital economy and deepening cooperation in blue economy.
In the field of infrastructure building, we have created landmark projects and achieved fruitful results in facilities connectivity. Chinese firms have participated in such strategic infrastructural projects as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), and the J.P. Magufuli Bridge.
Moreover, Chinese companies have completed with high quality a series of major infrastructure projects in Tanzania, such as Mtwara-Dar es Salaam Natural Gas Pipeline, Upgrading and Expansion of Dar es Salaam Port, Terminal 3 of Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar, Tanzanite Bridge in Dar es Salaam and the National ICT Broadband Backbone Network (NICTBB), making outstanding contributions to the improvement of infrastructure in Tanzania. Currently, China, Tanzania and Zambia are exploring the ways to revitalise TAZARA Railway.
It is hoped that this “Friendship Railway” will gain new vitality in the future and become a major transport corridor of the region and a “Development Railway.” In the field of economy and trade, we have deepened cooperation and improved both quality and efficiency.
In 2022, the bilateral trade volume reached US$8.31 billion, up by 23.7 per cent year-onyear and by 125 per cent over the past decade. China has remained Tanzania’s largest trading partner for seven consecutive years.
It has granted zero-tariff treatment to 98 per cent of Tanzania’s taxable items exported to China and approved its export of avocados, wild aquatic products and high-quality and featured agricultural products to China. As a result, Tanzania’s exports to China have continuously expanded.
Meanwhile, China’s investment in Tanzania has achieved remarkable results. By the end of 2022, China’s investment stock in Tanzania grew to 2.5 times that of 2012, thus providing a large amount of funds for the development of such industries in Tanzania as manufacturing, mining and agriculture.
In recent years, the investment volumes of many Chinese-invested projects, such as Keda Ceramics, Maweni Limestone Ltd, and Sapphire Float Glass Factory, have all exceeded US$100 million, creating a large number of jobs for the locals. In the field of people-topeople exchanges, we have promoted personnel exchanges, and further consolidated the foundation for popular support and public opinion.
With the help of China, Tanzania is implementing the National Occupational Standard Development Project, which will train a large number of technical talents for its industrialisation. Cultural exchange brands such as Luban Workshop and Confucius Institute have gradually taken shape and are effectively enhancing the understanding and communication between our two countries.
The “Small but Smart” development aid projects have yielded fruitful results.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, China donated 5.61 million doses of Covid vaccines to Tanzania, effectively supporting its drive to fight the pandemic. Over the past decade, China has implemented a large number of urgently needed livelihood projects for Tanzania, including the Kagera Vocational Training and Service Centre and the University of Dar es Salaam Library.
Since 2013, China has provided a total of 3,489 degree-programme scholarships and short-term training opportunities to Tanzania. In October this year, China will host the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the delegates of partner countries will gather in Beijing to discuss development and cooperation plans.
It is hoped that the convening of this forum will offer guidance and blueprints for China-Tanzania and ChinaAfrica cooperation in the new era.
At present, the geopolitical conflicts are intensifying, the global economic recovery remains weak and the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation.
China is willing to take the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation as an opportunity to address challenges and seek common development together with Tanzania and write a new chapter in China-Tanzania cooperation. We are ready to deepen “hard connectivity” in infrastructure and enhance “soft connectivity” in rules and standards with Tanzania.
We will also increase imports from Tanzania, expand mutually beneficial cooperation in such areas as green development, digital economy and blue economy and raise the level of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
I believe with our joint efforts the China-Tanzania Belt and Road cooperation will carry great practical significance, progress steadily, and endure in the long run.
The writer is the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania.