- Says Tanzania on right track in executing the policy
By DAILY NEWS Reporter
SERVING as Tanzanian envoy abroad is more than participating and making speeches in state and non-state functions, remarked Prof Costa Mahalu, former Tanzania Ambassador to Italy.
Instead, noted Prof Mahalu that the primary objective of an ambassador in a foreign mission is to exploit the country’s foreign policy to build economic strength and prosperity at home.
He said a diplomat should, therefore, work hard to advance and promote home economies, ensuring market access and promoting businesses.
“This is why our President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been emphasising on the need for ambassadors representing Tanzania abroad to embrace and work tirelessly in pushing ahead economic diplomacy agenda to benefit home economy,” said Prof Mahalu, in an interview with an editorial team from the Tanzania Standard (Newspapers) Limited (TSN) recently.
Economic diplomacy thus, constitutes use of economic tools of a state to achieve national interests by promoting and consolidating an open and competitive economy to increase exports, foreign investment and tourism and to facilitate better access to financing.
Due to the efforts made by President Samia’s, said Prof Mahalu that, Tanzania is now on the right track in executing economic diplomacy agenda.
With these efforts, significant strides have been made on restoring investors’ confidence coupled with increased flow of foreign direct investments (FDI).
Prof Mahalu, who first served as the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Tanzania’s ambassador to German for three years, noted that “When you are assigned as an envoy to foreign missions, you become like a personal representative of the president and the government,”
“As an ambassador, you are not only tasked to help state citizens residing in the receiving country on diplomatic issues but also building and maintaining diplomatic and economic ties with foreign nations,” he said.
He said economic diplomacy agenda was not common in the Tanzania’s foreign embassies although there were government officials in the embassies promoting issues related to the economy.
“During this time, the concept of economic diplomacy was still new in most foreign Tanzania embassies but we did our best to lay down foundation for other ambassadors who would succeed us,” he said.
However, he noted that some African nations had already been working seriously on economic diplomacy agenda and managed to attract and benefit their home economies.
It was during the former President Benjamin Mkapa’s reign that efforts were exerted on economic diplomacy agenda to ensure that Tanzania reap immense benefits from its foreign missions.
“President Mkapa told us that the first duty of Tanzania’s envoy in foreign embassies is to promote economic diplomacy by exploring all potential opportunities for the benefit of the home economy,” he said.
He said President Mkapa insisted that Tanzania’s ambassador abroad participating in various functions and delivering speeches was of less value and should not be entertained as the primary objective of their duty and obligations.
Prof Mahalu said from that moment on and with the new push by President Samia economic diplomacy has become the duty bound of each embassy to make sure they promote issues related to economy instead of participating in various functions alone.
He said an ambassador should look always keep an open eye, looking how others attained development in order to provide informed advice to the development the home economy.
“An ambassador should look for various market opportunities for the products produced in your country. This is important in widening export markets for locally produced goods, ultimately boosting foreign exchange earnings and economic development,” he said.
For example, after working in German for several years as deputy head of mission, I was transferred to Rome and became full ambassador.
“In collaboration with my team at the embassy, we tried our best to create linkages between Tanzania business community and their Italian counterparts as well as in other countries I was representing like Greece, Greece, Turkey and Slovenia,” he noted.
“During this period, a number of trade agreements were signed on behalf of my country for investors to come and invest in the country.
“We provided these investors with all the details concerning investment opportunities available in Tanzania and how they could easily pursue them. We indeed succeeded to the great extent,” he added.
In another arrangement, the embassy managed to bring the Italian business delegation and the other countries represented to meet their counterparts in Tanzania as well as exploring investment opportunities.
“For example, at one time, I organised a delegation of more than 30 business people from Tanzania to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Slovenia, where they entered into business partnership deals, exploring market opportunities and to the great extent secured reliable markets for locally produced goods,” he remarked.
Similarly in industries, the embassy linked Tanzania business community with foreign companies where several business partnership deals were signed for the win win situation.
Apart from being an ambassador in Italy, including representing Tanzania in some neighbouring countries, Prof Mahalu was also the country representative in three UN organisations namely Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“For example, with FAO we had regular talks on the situation of food in Tanzania and on strategies that could assure food security in the country,” he noted.
Therefore, Prof Mahalu said that during his tenure the embassy managed to create linkage between the business communities in Tanzania and Italy.
However, he explained that one of the challenges that emerged was the failure of some Tanzania business people to honour the business deals entered.
“Thus, at times when we talk of economic diplomacy, the reaction at home does not meet the market demand there,” he said.