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Tanzania, Burundi leaders deepen ties

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-20 10:01

Tanzania and Burundi on Saturday pledged to further strengthen bilateral trade and investment, with a range of business deals signed during a visit by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

In a news conference following a meeting in the presidential palace in Burundi's capital Bujumbura, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye said he and Hassan agreed on exchange programs relating to agriculture and livestock, and for the teaching of the Kiswahili and French languages.

Ndayishimiye said trade between the East African neighbors has increased, with $209 million recorded so far in Burundian investments in Tanzania, involving 18 projects. The investments have created more than 3,500 jobs.

Hassan said many companies from Tanzania have invested in Burundi and she looks forward to the prospect of more investment flows between the two countries.

"We have agreed to continue to work together to improve the business and investment climate in our countries by removing tax and non-tax barriers, including accelerating the construction of the Joint Border Services Center on our Manyovu-Mugina border," she said.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of eight memorandums of understanding. They covered the teaching of Kiswahili in Burundi and French in Tanzania, healthcare, energy, mining, agriculture, fisheries, and political and diplomatic affairs.

Value-added processing

Hassan said she wanted to encourage mine operators in Burundi to transport their minerals to Tanzania for value-added processing at a production center being built in the town of Kahama.

She also wanted them to consider Tanzania a viable market for their minerals.

"We agreed on the construction of roads and railways from Uvinza, Musongati and Gitega, so we have told our finance ministers to find funds to conduct these operations," she said.

"With these minerals in both countries, we can come together and build a bigger market."

Hassan also highlighted the two countries' trade ties, noting that bilateral trade had increased from $35 million in 2015 to more than $86 million in 2019.

"This is not enough, as we wish to increase trade between the two countries," she said.

The Tanzanian president arrived in Burundi on Friday for a two-day state visit. She held talks with Ndayishimiye aimed at further strengthening relations between the two countries, especially in promoting trade and investment.

Burundi heavily depends on Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port. Last year, 476,000 metric tons of Burundian goods passed through the port, and Hassan said her country has allocated 10 hectares for a dry port in Kwala, in Tanzania's Coast Region, for Burundians to move cargo.

To further boost trade, Hassan further called for the lifting of sanctions on Burundi that were imposed in 2015 when then-president Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term, in an outcome that sparked protests and a political crisis.

She also pledged her support for Burundi's bid to join the Southern African Development Community.

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