SOME few days ago, Tanzania hosted a group of businessmen from Belgium, Greece and Italy (BELGREITA) who came to look for business and investment opportunities and learn more about this East African country. Their visit did not just happen.
It was meticulously planned and the Tanzanian Ambassador in Belgium and the European Union (EU), Dr Diodorus Kamala was a man behind the trip.
According to Dr Kamala himself, the trip was the beginning of implementing the government's new foreign policy on economic diplomacy.
Dr Kamala said that among other things, economic diplomacy calls for strengthening the country's economy by using diplomatic initiatives by attracting investments, increasing exports and promoting tourism among other things.
"We want to strengthen business relations with these countries for the mutual benefit of both sides," he said. He explained that his embassy in Brussels is in the final stages of preparing a strategic plan on how they will implement the government's new foreign policy and that they plan to bring 100 businessmen every year.
Experts explain that economic diplomacy is a form of diplomacy. They say that economic diplomacy is the use of the full spectrum economic tools of the state to achieve its national interest.
Economic diplomacy includes all the economic activities, including but not limited to export, import, investment, lending, aid, free trade agreements among others.
It is concerned with economic policy issues, such as work of delegations at standard setting organisations such as World Trade Organisation (WTO). Economic diplomats also monitor and report on economic policies in foreign countries and give the home government advice on how to best influence them.
Economic diplomacy employs economic resources, either as rewards or sanctions, in pursuit of a particular foreign policy objective.
Speaking at a dinner event hosted by Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) for the delegation, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr John Haule who was a guest of honor said Tanzania is ready to work and forge mutual relations with businessmen and investors from the three countries and others and that the country's investment environment is supportive.
Mr Haule who represented his Minister, Mr Bernard Membe, said: "This is a unique chance to forge relationship with our colleagues from the three countries... we are ready to work with them."
He mentioned a Tanzania Investment Centre's (TIC) One Stop Centre where investors are served under one umbrella and a country's policy on Public Private Partnership (PPP) as some of the initiatives that make it easy for investors to operate in Tanzania.
He said the government in collaboration with the private sector is stepping up efforts to improve business and investment environment for both local and foreign investors. He congratulated Dr Kamala for initiating the trip. "We thank you for this wonderful initiative... we are sure that you will continue with those efforts," he said.
The private sector through TPSF welcomed the businessmen and prospective investors and assured them of cooperation and best return of their investment. The TPSF Executive Director, Mr Godfrey Simbeye said that as an apex body of the private sector in Tanzania, the foundation was ready to work with the investors and together promote their countries' economic and development interests.
"This is a grace to our country... we should use this opportunity," Mr Simbeye said. He said that TPSF is a strong and reputable organisation and that by working together BELGREITA members are set to reap benefits in Tanzania.
He said that Tanzania has appropriate forums where investors and members from the private sector dialogue with the government and advance their concerns, a situation he said is a plus for people who want to do business in Tanzania.
"Investors roundtable meetings offers you a good forum to communicate with the government in a unique way," he told the delegates. However, he challenged local companies to make sure that they meet required standards and be able to forge partnerships with foreign counterparts.
The head of BELGREITA delegation, Mr Malin Johan, the delegation comprise of various companies with diverse expertise and knowledge. "We have not come here to sell consumer products," he said, adding that the companies have expertise in areas such ports, renewable energy, engineering, oil and gas and agriculture, among others.
At a business forum prepared by Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), the Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office, Investment and Empowerment, Dr Mary Nagu urged business communities in Tanzania to forge strong partnerships with their foreign counterparts and benefit from expertise, capital and technology.
She said that such partnerships have benefited many countries and Tanzania should learn from them. She said that the coming of the European delegation in the country is a clear testimony of the government to help local business people to go international and tap opportunities out there for their benefit and the country at large.
She said all the initiatives are in the spirit of the government's initiative on 'Big Result Now' and implementing the country's Vision 2025. She said the private sector in the country is the engine of economic growth and they should utilize the visit of the European investors to build lasting working relations for mutual benefits.
Dr Nagu also urged local companies to merge and form huge companies that will be able to compete, attract foreign partnerships and be able to get big loans and increase their prospects to expand. On her part, the TIC Director of Investment Facilitation, Ms. Nakuala Senzia said that the agency is ready to help anyone who wants to invest in Tanzania.
"We know that investors are part and parcel of our development endeavors, we are ready to help them," she said. She said that TIC needs both local and foreign investors to create a viable base of tax payers in the country and therefore facilitate sustainable development.
Tanzania needs investors and it is competing with other countries in attracting them. Our diplomats have a huge role to play in attracting such investors for the good of the nation.
They live with them and therefore should show efforts in selling Tanzania and encourage them to visit the country and learn about it. Envoys representing Tanzania abroad should also take advantage of the readiness of their government back home to work with investors for the mutual benefit of both sides. Conducive policies such as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) make Tanzania a best place to invest.
Strong public and private institutions such as TIC and TPSF respectively is an added advantage for an investor who is interested to come and work in this country.
Add Tanzania's peace and tranquility, huge natural resources, and strategic geographic location to the list. Amb. Kamala's efforts deserve support. Let other envoys emulate him.