Tanzania, DRC Eye Trade Growth

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan and her counterpart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, have agreed to work together in a number of areas to boost trade between the two nations.

Trade, investment, infrastructure, finance, energy, education, defence, security, and immigration are just a few of the areas where Tanzania and the DRC plan to work together.

This decision resulted from discussions between the two leaders at the State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

“We looked at the trade volume, which has been very low for the last ten years, but if we can do what we agreed in those areas, then it will grow,” stated President Samia shortly after the two leaders’ bilateral talks.

During their discussions, the two leaders reaffirmed their common commitment to strengthening the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood between the two countries and their people.

In terms of trade, she stated that following her visit to the DRC in August 2022, Foreign Ministers of both countries were instructed to call an urgent meeting of the Joint Commission, which had not met in nearly 20 years since 2002.

“I am delighted to announce that, as a result of our efforts, the commission met in September this year and adopted 50 resolutions, as well as signing a Memorandum of Understanding on defence and security, infrastructure and transport, trade and investment, relations and social cooperation between Tanzania and the DRC,” President Samia said.

President Samia stated that in terms of infrastructure and transportation, the two countries have begun to take steps, as this week the Finance Ministers of Tanzania and the DRC met in the United States with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and agreed to apply for a joint loan to complete construction of a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Kigoma to the DRC via Burundi.

She said that during her recent visit to Kigoma Region, she went to the Tibirizi Port, where two ports are being built to connect with the ports of Kalemie and Moba town in DRC.

Mr Tshisekedi is in the country for a state visit at the invitation of his Tanzanian counterpart, President Samia. His visit began in Zanzibar.

In order to promote trade, President Samia stated that Tanzania was renovating the MV Sangara vessel and building a new ship that will operate in Lake Tanganyika and easily connect businessmen from both countries.

“There is a plan to construct the Northern Corridor, which will connect Tanzania and the DRC via the East African Community. The objective is to increase trade between these nations, which is currently low but will increase if we carry out our plans,” she remarked.

In addition, President Samia said that in the strategy of African countries to deal with the threat of food shortage, the private sector was ready to invest in the agricultural sector in DRC. She said the Cereal and Other Produce Board of Tanzania (CPB) has also opened a centre in Lubumbashi.

President Samia said they have also agreed to make good use of the 2022 UN climate conference (COP27) to be held in Egypt, which Tanzania will lead the meeting and will be supported by other countries including DRC and EAC.

Also, she said that the countries have agreed to remove tax and non-tax barriers to promote trade and asked the ministers of trade to work on the issue.

President Tshisekedi, for his part, stated that during their discussion, they had focused more on security-related issues because, without security and peace, it is difficult to believe that all the projects they had planned will be feasible.

“Security is very important to us in the DRC and as president, I have focused on developing brotherly relations with our neighbours,” he said.

He emphasised the importance of African countries developing sound business plans and making effective use of resources in order to build their economies rather than relying on aid from Western countries.

“We have also reached an agreement on road and rail infrastructure, as well as communication. It is critical for our two countries to develop this communication sector,” he said.

He stated that the communication sector is important because it not only generates income but also jobs.

On the international side, he said they have discussed the issue of the war in Ukraine affecting Africa in the area of food and energy and that is why he stressed the importance of African countries discussing what should be done to deal with such a situation.

“We said during the COP27 meeting that we will talk as SADC about how to deal with the challenges we have, including how to deal with climate change,” he explained.

During the event, Tanzania’s Minister for Information, Communication, and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye, and DRC Foreign Affairs Minister Christophe Lutundula signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Information, Communication Technology (ICT), Post and Telecommunication.

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