About Us Speeches

Remarks by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the Business Community Interaction

Posted on: July 08, 2023 | Back | Print

Your Excellency, Minister Omar Shaaban, Minister of Trade and Industrial and Development of Zanzibar,
Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr. Dammu Ravi,
Our High Commissioners, both of them,
business delegates from India and Tanzania from IIA and TIC,

Namaskar, Habari, a very good afternoon and as we were reminded, Happy Saba Saba Day.

I am very pleased today that I have an opportunity to participate in a business event during my visit to Tanzania, and my sincere thanks to the Indian Industries Association, the Tanzania Investment Centre and other organizers who have come together to put this event in place. My special thanks to delegates from India who could make it to Dar Es Salaam and your visit here will allow you to explore opportunities to further our business trade relations.

Now, all of you know that Tanzania and India, we enjoy traditionally close and friendly relations. We have a very sound political understanding between us. We’ve seen regular high level visits including that of Prime Minister Modi a few years ago, and we have, of course, very broad, very deep people to people contacts.

Regarding economic ties, because that is the reason we are gathered here today, these have always been a very strong pillar of cooperation, despite the global disruption and the COVID challenges. Our bilateral trade has actually seen very strong growth, though there is…I must say Minister…a bit of a gap between your figures and our figures. So the Indian figures actually put our bilateral trade last year at $6.4 billion, that is in 2022-23.

Now, bear in mind, this is not only a very substantial bilateral trade, but it’s also actually a bilateral trade, which is getting increasingly balanced. Many new products are being added to the trade basket, and what is most important is that India, whether you follow our figures or Tanzanian figures, India remains the biggest destination for Tanzanian exports. So that is something we should note. The reason for that is that there’s this duty-free tariff scheme extended by India to 33 countries of Africa since 2008, including…I’d say especially to Tanzania, and this has been instrumental in getting Tanzanian exports to India up very significantly. Currently, it opens up 98% of tariff lines from Tanzania to India on a duty-free basis. So as I mentioned, we have different figures for what is our actual trade, but whether we are your biggest trade partner or not, but I can say, we are your best trade partner, and certainly, by our figures, we are also the biggest. I hope in your figures too, that would happen soon.

Now, when it comes to the India business interest in Tanzania, obviously the way to promote that is through frequent exchanges of delegations of individual business, of companies, and I was very happy to learn that in 2022, the eight big exhibitions in different sectors took place here, there were more than 700 India businessmen who came, and these have certainly helped to promote bilateral trade and investment. And today, the presence of a 40-member delegation, I think is a source of great satisfaction, and I really thank the organizers at both ends who have made that possible.

As regards investment, we have seen investment in hospitals, in pharma, in animal vaccine…as we heard, in education, in mining, in agro processing, and I do want to say, we are committed to taking it forward and perhaps a time will come when we will see an Indian industrial park in Tanzania.

There’s also an issue which has been brought up from time to time, which is the possibility of trade settlements in our own currencies. And I want to share with you that the India Central Bank has cleared such a possibility. So the three Indian banks, which are here, have that ability to do trade settlements in each other’s currencies. I am told few transactions have already taken place in India rupees and Tanzanian shillings, and certainly this will provide an additional mechanism to promote trade between our two countries.

Now, a few words about India. I think it stands to reason we are today the fifth largest economy in the world. Our expectation of GDP growth remains strong. We would be hopefully closing in on 7% this year. But we really have, we are very confident of multiple decades of growth ahead. We may be one of the fastest growing large economies of the world but we also recognize that Tanzania has actually shown a spectacular economic performance in Africa. I congratulate you Minister and colleagues on that achievement, and I think this strong growth at both ends really opens up many more possibilities between us. Where India is concerned, other than trade and investment, we have a strong development partnership. I will speak about it right at the end as well, and these are guided by the ten principles which Prime Minister Modi spelt out in 2018. The central message of what he said at that time is that our friendship, our solidarity must be expressed through business and development partnerships. But they must respond to the priorities of the partner countries. That is really what we have been trying to do and I think many of our projects really reflect that.

In terms of development partnership, the biggest commitment we have is in the water sector. We have close to a billion dollars of line of credit. These water projects will cover 28 towns. Eventually 8 million people in Tanzania will benefit from that. I had an opportunity of seeing one project which is under construction in Zanzibar, yesterday and this morning close to Dar es salaam which actually pumps in water to Dar es salaam as well.

I would also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the support and the role of the 55,000 strong Indian Diaspora here because the Diaspora is always a bridge. You have an understanding of both ends of the relationship. As I said, when you see two economies grow so strongly, it’s important that there are a set of people who are tracking changes at both ends, who are able to explain these changes to everybody and who are able to guide people from business who are coming here to see what the possibilities are, and definitely, I would say those businesses who have been here a long time, we heard one of them earlier in the afternoon, I think they have a particular responsibility in that regard. I obviously would hope very much that today’s event would contribute to stronger business bonding between us. But before I conclude, I want to really… we have been talking about business cooperation, investment, trade, but I want to give you a larger context. So don’t just think India and Tanzania, but let us look at an African context, even a global context.

If I take all of Africa today, India’s trade is $98 billion with Africa. India’s investments are $75 billion, and we are expecting both this trade with Africa and investments in Africa to grow, and I certainly, so agree with what you said, which is that now that there is a pan-African larger continental Free Trade arrangement in the making, as it unfolds, I think it makes it easier to both trade with Africa and invest in Africa.

Now, we may have a unified market here, or you may be moving towards a unified market, but unified markets still require points of entry. Unified markets require regional hubs. Within the unified market, there would be a differentiated level of, I would say, a governance and governance quality and investment friendliness. And that is where, I would say, Tanzania is very important… because from an Indian perspective, when we look at Africa, for us, Africa, first of all, means East Africa, because this is the Africa with which we have a historical familiarity…where, again, the diaspora is strong. So even as Africa as a continent really lowers its internal barriers, for us, the case to be in Tanzania and to work with Tanzania becomes that much stronger.

The second, we speak about transactions and assets, but we should not forget the importance of human resources and capacities. The significance of what we are doing by establishing an Indian Institute of Technology campus in Zanzibar is exactly that. That we are today, this is…Minister, colleagues, you should see this as actually also an act of investment. That we are investing today in the capacities of Tanzania, but we expect this not just to be a Tanzanian institution, we expect it actually to be a magnet for all of Africa and really emerge as a pan-African institution of education and technological excellence. I am very glad that it’s located in Zanzibar, because that is a natural confluence, that’s a meeting point really between India and Africa.

I make one other important point, which is, the changes in India. My Indian friends would know, but for the benefits of our Tanzanian colleagues, I want to stress that there is something called ‘Make in India’. Make in India, Make for the World, is a programme which Prime Minister Modi has led for some years now, by which manufacturing in India is growing very rapidly. We are developing really global level capabilities in a very cost effective manner, in a very technologically relevant manner. And you can see this today, not just I would say in our traditional exports, but in sectors like railways, in defence, in drones, in pharma. So you are actually going to be dealing with an India which has much more to give to the world, much more to share with the world, much more to trade with the world. And the world needs it, because the lesson really from the COVID is, we cannot be reliant on any single geography. That if the world relies on one part of the world and something happens, we are all at risk. I think we saw that over the last three years. So today, how to spread the risk, how to have different manufacturing hubs all across the world, including in Africa, is something which is actually a global de-risking of the world economy. And this is certainly something that India and Tanzania should be working towards.

Once again, let me say it’s really a great pleasure today to join you all during my visit, and certainly, as I head into our Joint Commission meeting tomorrow, the sentiments and the enthusiasm that this meeting has generated is something which I will try to communicate into that event.

Thank you very much.