Dar es Salaam — The government courted investors from China's Shandong Province at the weekend, detailing three major reasons why Tanzania should be their preferred destination.
In 2017, China - the world's second largest economy - ranked as the largest foreign investor in Tanzania, jumping from sixth position in 2012, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) figures show.
Cumulative figures for the period between 1990 and 2017 show that China is leading with investments worth $5.963 billion.
The UK came second with investments valued at $5.54 billion, while the US, Mauritius and India completed the top five list with investments worth $4.7 billion, $4.308 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.
Making a presentation during a road show and business matchmaking seminar that brought together representatives from businesses from China's Shandong Province and their Tanzanian counterparts in Dar es Salaam at the weekend, the director of investment promotion at the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), Mr James Maziku, said China had every reason to choose Tanzania as a preferred investment destination.
"Firstly, the cost of doing business in Tanzania is going down as the government has embarked on reviewing the legal and regulatory framework that impede businesses," he said.
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This was in apparent reference to the government's decision to scrap a total of 54 fees and charges from the list of what businesses pay to public institutions and regulatory agencies in the endeavour to facilitate businesses and build an industrial base.
He said President John Magufuli's government was also building physical infrastructure (including the standard gauge railway, ports, airports and roads) to make it easy for businesses to operate.
"The government is serious with the fight against corruption so that businesses can operate without challenges... the free education policy also seeks to ensure that businesses have enough skilled manpower," Mr Maziku said, detailing how EPZA was cooperating with companies to hone the skills of some workers in a separate programme.
Tanzania's geographical location and its membership in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the East African Community (EAC) also give investors access to a larger market.
"This goes down well with China's Belt and Road Initiative to which Tanzania is also a signatory," he said.
Located between Beijing and Shanghai, Shandong is ranked as one of China's major provinces in terms of agriculture, industry and culture.
In 2018, the province's gross domestic product was valued at $1.11 trillion while its total imports and export volumes reached $280.8 billion.
A Chinese embassy official, Mr Yuan Lin, exuded confidence in further improved relations between the two countries, saying the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping chose Tanzania as his first stop to visit Africa in 2013 speaks volumes.
He said although there have been some complaints about Tanzania's business climate, businesses remained eager that the issues would be dealt with once and for all.
"Of course, I have also heard some complaints about the current investment environment and policies. The enterprises are eager for more practical and reasonable policies, more efficient government management, and more favourable investment facilitation," he said.
Led by the vice chairman of the Shandong Sub-council of the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, Mr Liu Xiaojiang, the Chinese delegation is also scheduled to hold road shows and business matchmaking seminars in Ethiopia and Ghana.