TANZANIA recorded a positive balance of trade with other East African Community (EAC) member states last year as traders continue to take advantages of opportunities availed under the EAC customs union.
The Minister for East African Cooperation, Mr Samuel Sitta, said in Parliament last week that Tanzania's trade with other EAC partner states maintained a steady growth and by last year the country's exports in the regional market exceeded its imports.
According to provisional data for the year 2013, the value of Tanzania's exports was US$ 1120.1 million which is an increase of 82 per cent from US$ 613.30 million in 2012 and US$ 409 million in 2011, the minister said.
Provisional data for the year 2013 show Tanzania imports from other partner states were US$ 410.2 million which is a decrease of 39.5 per cent from US$ 678.60 million for 2012 and US$ 378.10 million in 2011.
The products exported included machines, fertilizers, electrical equipments, ship and boats equipments, cereals, oil products and their distillations, paper and textiles.
"This is an indication that the industrial sector is sustainably growing and Tanzania's traders are responding positively towards the opportunities availed by the East African Customs Union," he said.
The most imported goods were motor vehicle spare parts, electrical equipment and their spare parts, cereals, cooking oil, soap and packaging materials.
Tanzania's economy is projected to grow by around 7.1 per cent in 2014 and 7.3 per cent in 2015, driven by transport, communications, manufacturing and agriculture, supported by public investment in infrastructure.
According to the Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, the manufacturing sector grew by 7.7 per cent in 2013 down from 8.2 per cent in 2012 compared to 7.8 per cent in the preceding year.
Moving his ministry's 2014/15 budget in Parliament last week, the minister said the contribution of the sector to the economy has been increasing by an average of 9.02 per cent from 8.37 per cent in 1998 to 9.92 in 2013.
The growth has been a result of increased productivity in industries increased production in beverage industries, cement, steel manufacturing. The Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) said increased exports to the EAC was a boon to the economy as it drives growth.
The CTI Chairman, Dr Samuel Nyantahe said told the Business Standard that increased foreign direct investments had stimulated the growth of exports.
"Although the results are only provisional, they show a trend which is good to the economy. We need to sustain it by addressing outlined challenges in our infrastructure and in doing business in general," he said.
Dr Nyantahe said the government and the private sector needed to play their roles to make sure the trend was sustained and Tanzania remained the best investment destination.
Tanzania is struggling to reform its business environment which is described the most unfriendly in the East African region.
The country slipped 12 steps in the Doing Business Report 2014 - published by the World Bank and its private sector window, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).