TANZANIA and India enjoy long-standing historical friendship and brotherhood, built upon a solid bond of cooperation. With President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s State visit to India from 8-11 October 2023, our growing ties will be elevated to greater heights, linking our historical past, geographical positions as well as the strategic direction of our current foreign policies.
Tanzania’s relations with India date centuries ago, when trade between the people of Swahili Coast (including Zanzibar and Tanganyika) and Mandovi River Coast of Gujarat was documented. The period witnessed the arrival of Indian traders, mostly from coastal Gujarat on the shores of Zanzibar and then to mainland Tanzania. Through the famous seasonal Monsoon Winds, traders and sailors from Europe passing through Africa could count on this dependable wind to carry out a round-trip along the Indian Ocean annually.
The discovery of the Monsoon Winds paved the way for the Monsoon Trade System to boom. Arguably the oldest trade route system, it gathered an Indian Ocean Network of merchants using dhows, travelling from various places in Africa (including modern-day Tanzania), Persia, India and Southeast Asia.
For our two countries, as the network grew strong, the interaction between the people of the Swahili Coast and their Indian counterparts grew even more robust. As a result, people-to-people relations emerged, giving a solid foundation for government-to-government ties.
With the establishment of Diplomatic Missions in Tanganyika and India in 1961 and 1962, respectively, our relations flourished. Today, Tanzania and India continue to enjoy cordial and friendly diplomatic relations built upon our shared desire to deepen economic, political, cultural and social engagements that started centuries ago.
Bilaterally, our two countries are interested in capitalising on and stepping up our shared vision for development, tackling everyday challenges to economic growth and identifying innovative opportunities for our countries to prosper.
On this front, I commend President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the First Diplomat, for her leadership of our government, which enabled the amendment of investment policies, improvement of the business environment, strengthening of democracy and good governance and enhancement of economic diplomacy.
With this visit, our relations with India will enter a critical stage whereby our two governments, led by President Samia and her counterpart Droupadi Murmu and Indian Prime Minister, Rt Hon Narendra Modi will commit to rekindle business and trade relations for prosperity. Currently, India is Tanzania’s fourth largest trading partner, with a bilateral trade volume of USD 6.5 billion in 2022-23 (as per Indian statistics) and 3.1 billion in 2021-2022 (as per Tanzanian statistics) compared to USD 2.6 billion in 2017-2018. Similarly, India is among the top five investment sources in Tanzania. In 2021/2022, 630 investment projects worth USD 3.7 billion were registered at the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC).
In addition to this zeal to revive economic ties with India, we at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation have witnessed HE Samia Suluhu Hassan elevating the execution of our Foreign Policy to greater heights. Since she came into power, she has given Tanzania’s Diplomacy significant attention by opening up the country to both business, bilateral and multilateral engagements.
Without diverting from core principles of Foreign Policy, she has put more thrust into new areas of cooperation by using the Joint Permanent Commission with our friends and allies, India being a major one. Tanzania and India cooperate in strategic sectors such as water, health, agriculture, ICT, blue economy, education, trade and investment and agriculture and the promotion of business and investment opportunities available in Tanzania in order to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from India.
From the early days of the Monsoon Trade System, it is indeed A Bridge Across the Ocean, with our Indian partners whom today, we share vibrant economic relations in the area of trade and investment. As a Minister responsible for the Foreign Affairs portfolio, I take pride to note the endurance of Tanzania – India trade and business incredible journey that have stood the test of time. It is my sincere hope that this State Visit will give impetus to President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s quest to unlock Tanzania’s constraints to economic growth.