MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) in Tanzania want the government to focus on economic diplomacy as well as attract foreign investments in agro-processing industries rather than relying on more attractive sectors such as tourism, minerals and gas.
Records from the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) show that in the recent past most foreign companies seeking investment in the country have been attracted by the mining and gas industries.
Legislators from both sides of the House yesterday urged the government to explore opportunities in economic diplomacy to help increase foreign investments in the country to make Tanzania’s push for an industrial economy a reality.
Debating the 2017/18 ministerial budget estimates for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, East Africa and International Cooperation, the lawmakers noted that Tanzania needed to make major investments in attracting foreign investors in alternative sectors to create jobs quickly and improve the national economy.
“Economic diplomacy is more about soliciting economic opportunities with your country’s agenda in mind rather than just waiting for foreign counterparts to advance their agenda through you,” said the shadow minister for Foreign Affairs, East Africa and International Cooperation, Peter Msigwa.
He said that the government was not doing enough to gain from the good relations Tanzania enjoyed with many countries across the globe.
The opposition leader acknowledged that President John Magufuli was doing a lot in building diplomatic ties as evidenced by heads of states visiting the country, but national representatives abroad were not fully exhausting economic diplomacy to attract more investments to Tanzania.
“It is not something one can be proud of if Citizen Number One, the president, receives more international dignitaries, while government officers were not fully exploring opportunities in other countries,” he added.
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence, Adadi Rajab, said the government should complete the process of formulating the new Foreign Affairs policy to create a vision that goes hand in hand with modern global economic diplomacy.
He advised the government to consider having qualified Foreign Service officers in all its embassies abroad for a better performance of its foreign envoys.
“Our embassies should also have economic professionals to help boost the economic diplomatic opportunities in other countries,” said Rajab.
On the other hand, the committee proposed that the government should conduct rotation of officers at its embassies, saying staying at one station for a long time reduced efficiency.
Meanwhile, both groups expressed concern over cases of killing of Tanzanian domestic workers in foreign countries, calling on the government to have in place strategies to stop such deaths.
Parliamentary Committee chairperson said: “The committee has realised the increasing abuse of Tanzanians working as domestic workers in other countries. The government ought to see how to stop the trend”.
The same was echoed by the Opposition’s Peter Msigwa who noted that the trend was on the rise in Oman, adding that such cases have been reported in the media but the government was yet to react.
“The situation has been caused by poverty in our country, making Tanzanian youth to seek such domestic jobs in other countries, but the government has not done much to stop it,” he said.
He said the Opposition camp would like the government to act and stop agencies that send the nation’s youth outside the country to search for greener pastures only to end up being persecuted.