WINDHOEK – Visiting Tanzanian President John Magufuli, on a rare trip abroad, yesterday expressed unhappiness with the fact that trade between his country and Namibia for the past five years was only worth a paltry N$360 million.
He said there are only two Namibian investments registered with the Tanzanian Investment Center, a feat he said was too low for countries that often brag about being ‘brothers’.
Both countries offer goods and services that have a market in the other, hence the need to tie the loose ends that currently hinder doing business. As a first step, Magufuli said his country would open a high commission in Windhoek to allow timely interactions between Namibia and Tanzania.
Currently Namibia has a mission in Tanzania, but the East African country deals with Namibia through its mission in Pretoria, South Africa.
Magufuli, known as ‘The Bulldozer’ for his often no-nonsense demeanour, suggested that it was a waste of time sloganeering about the decorated historical ties between the two countries if such were not turned into economic opportunities for the people.
“There is a strong foundation laid by our founding fathers Julius Nyerere and Sam Nujoma, but we have to build on them to improve economic ties between our two countries,” he said.
He suggested as a start that for trade to blossom, Namibia and Tanzania must remove trade barriers between themselves, something that also speaks to Sadc’s integration agenda.
“We must remove trade barriers and craft preferential trade arrangements. There are many goods and services produced in Namibia that have a market in Tanzania, and the opposite is true when it comes to services and goods produced in Tanzania,” he said at State House, where he met President Hage Geingob.
“I am told that for the past five years since 2014, business between Namibia and Tanzania is just too low. The value of trade for that period is less than US$25 million (N$360 million at yesterday’s exchange rate) and that’s too low because there exist bilateral ties between the two countries and we are brothers,” he said.
He said his country has a lot to learn from Namibia, especially in the area of fisheries and livestock farming.
“Tanzania has 1 422 km of sea along the Indian Ocean but there’s nothing happening there in terms of the blue economy, including fishing. So we need your experience,” he remarked.
President Geingob concurred with his counterpart on the need for improved working relations.
“Namibia and Tanzania face the same developmental challenges such as poverty and unemployment that affect our citizens. The onus is on us to redouble our efforts in working towards a goal of eradicating poverty, sustainable development and maintaining peace and stability,” he said.
Geingob, who is also chairman of Sadc of which Tanzania is a member, added: “I am confident that our getting together will yield tangible results on which current and future generations in our countries will be able to build, as we seek to transform and grow our economies and deepen our bilateral cooperation. Let us join our efforts and resources to improve the livelihood of our people.”