South Africa, Tanzania strengthen ties

20 July 2011

South Africa and Tanzania signed two new agreements during the state visit of President Jakaya Kikwete on Tuesday, as he and President Jacob Zuma moved to boost levels of cooperation between the two countries.

Zuma said the signing of the agreements, on forming a bi-national commission and on co-operation in arts and culture, was “a clear indication of our collective determination to take our relations to higher levels for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.”

Briefing journalists in Pretoria after holding talks with Kikwete, Zuma said the new bi-national commission agreement went beyond the current Presidential Economic Commission in seeking to broaden the scope of the two countries’ cooperation.

“We felt the time had come to move beyond just economic cooperation, to other areas of mutual interest,” Zuma said.

Tanzania was home to scores of South Africans during the struggle for liberation from apartheid, Zuma noted.

“Our relationship is one born out of great sacrifices that clearly distinguished good from evil … Given the sacrifices made, it is most appropriate that the two nations combine all their efforts in their fight to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.”

The two presidents agreed that there were still untapped areas of cooperation between South Africa and Tanzania, and have directed their ministers to work towards finalising other outstanding agreements.

They emphasised the importance of strengthening cooperation in the fields of energy, agriculture, mining, infrastructural development and water.

“Of particular importance is the need to prioritise economic cooperation through trade and investment and thus create job opportunities in our respective countries,” Zuma said.

More than 150 South African companies operate in Tanzania, but Kikwete said this was not enough, adding that the South Africa-Tanzanian Business Forum would help to identify areas of for further cooperation.

South Africa is the third-largest exporter to Tanzania, with a market share of 9.63%. However, while South Africa’s exports to Tanzania had dipped slightly from US$500-million in 2009, SA’s imports from Tanzania grew by almost 100%, from $22-million in 2009 to $44-million in 2010.

Kikwete said the two countries needed to expand business cooperation before the issue of the trade imbalance could be addressed.

Currently, South African exports to Tanzania consists predominantly of manufactured goods such as machinery, mechanical appliances, paper, rubber products, vehicles, iron, steel, services and technology. Imports from Tanzania are mainly gold, coffee, cashew nuts and cotton.

Apart from boosting trade, the two presidents also talked about the situation in Libya and the newly born South Sudan. Kikwete said his country supports the AU roadmap, which encourages an inclusive and consensual Libyan-owned and led transition.

Admitting that there were deeper conflict issues, Kikwete stood with Zuma that a military solution was, however, not the correct way to resolve problem.

On South Sudan, both Zuma and Kikwete agreed that the people of that country should be given the opportunity to decide their own needs, with the international community standing ready to help where it could.

Kikwete said hoped Zuma would visit Tanzania in September for the opening of the ambitious, pan-African Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, which aims to develop the next generation of African scientists and engineers.

Source: BuaNews