- The Romania-Tanzania alliance is taking shape with President Iohannis signing two major trade MoUs with the African country.
- This is part of Tanzania President Samia’s move to woo European investors to her country’s agriculture sector.
- Romania-Tanzania ties seem to offer immediate gains with the European country assuring Dar es Salaam of food security even as the Ukraine-Russia war persists.
A fresh alliance, Romania-Tanzania, is taking shape, with the European country betting on the East African nation to grow its presence and influence on the continent significantly as it forges “strategic approaches to Africa.”
President Klaus Iohannis made the assertion during his recent visit to Tanzania. In a four-day state tour, he engaged with the government and investors in Tanzania’s mainland and the island of Zanzibar.
During his visit, at least two Romania-Tanzania agreements were signed by President Iohannis and his counterpart, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Romania-Tanzania strategic partnership
While the details of the Romania-Tanzania MoU are yet to be made public, President Iohannis did hint towards cooperation in disaster risk management, humanitarian assistance, and agriculture.
The European country has recently adopted a “National Strategy for Africa” policy, and this maiden visit by President Iohannis seeks to “intensify political and diplomatic dialogue and open up new prospects for cooperation,” he told the media.
“We agreed to develop cooperation in areas that are crucial for both Romania and Tanzania, such as education, civil protection, agriculture, forestry, IT, and cybersecurity,” President Iohannis added on the Romania-Tanzania relationship.
President Iohannis used the opportunity to present his regional and international security assessment to his counterpart Samia Romania.
“As a direct neighbor of Ukraine and a state bordering the Black Sea, I presented to Madame President Romania’s assessment of the security situation in our region and of the developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine,” President Iohannis said.
President Iohannis reassured Tanzania of food security support since the East African nation, like many on the continent, depends on Ukraine and Russia for its cereals among other foods.
“We also had a concrete discussion on how we can manage the multiple consequences of the war, including from the perspective of ensuring food security for African states,” he said of the Romania-Tanzania deal.
And; “I presented the extensive political-diplomatic, logistical, and administrative measures taken by Romania to facilitate grain exports from Ukraine, including to African countries.”
His host, Dr. Suluhu Samia, said Romania’s Iohannis agreed on a continued collaboration to deepen Romania-Tanzania strategic ties for mutual benefit, especially to increase trade and investments.
Romania-Tanzania Memoranda of Understanding
As for the signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), President Samia said the first one involved promoting cooperation in disaster management and international humanitarian.
This MoU was signed between Tanzania’s Prime Minister’s Office and Romania’s Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania.
“The second one was between Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Science (AFS) to promote and encourage economic, scientific, and technical cooperation in agriculture and environmental conservation,” the president said.
This visit, the second by a president from Eastern Europe this year, is expected to open up an avenue for increased trade and economic development.
Tanzania’s President Samia has been actively calling for foreign investment and pushing to ease bureaucracy to attract investors. With the signed MoU on agriculture development and trade, Tanzania can expect increased importation and exportation of goods and services between the two countries.
Another key aspect of the signed MoUs is technology and knowledge transfer, especially in mechanizing and commercializing agriculture.
Notably, Romania has considerable modern technology in agriculture and is, in fact, one of the top agricultural producers in Eastern Europe.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Romania is one of the largest agricultural producers in Europe.
Romania has dedicated over 57 per cent of its land to agriculture, approximately 13.5 million hectares.
Romania also has one of Europe’s largest populations employed in the agriculture sector. More than 23 per cent of Romanians are employed in agriculture, the highest percentage in the European Union (EU).
If Tanzania is to increase its agricultural productivity, a partnership with agricultural giants like Romania is the way to go. Tanzania is looking to increase its agricultural contribution to its GDP by 10 per cent by 2030.
Romania-Tanzania trade cross-section
As of 2021, Romania exported goods worth $12.3 million to Tanzania. The main products included Packaged Medicaments ($7.48 million), Telephones ($1.26 million), and Laboratory Reagents ($298,000).
In the last two and a half decades, Romania’s exports to Tanzania have increased 9.36 per cent annually from $1.2 million in 1995 to $12.3 million in 2021, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).
The OEC also notes that in 2021, Tanzania exported goods worth $4.26 million to Romania. The main products are agricultural products like Fish Fillets ($3.02 million), Coffee ($994,000), and Raw Tobacco ($224,000).
“During the last 26 years the exports of Tanzania to Romania have increased at an annualized rate of 19.6 per cent, from $40,300 in 1995 to $4.26 million in 2021,” the OEC notes.
Last year, COMTRADE reports, Tanzania’s exports to Romania slightly increased to US$4.51 million during 2022. In that same period, COMTRADE further reports, that Tanzania imported goods worth US$2.42 million from Romania.
Generally, according to the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TANTRADE), trade between Tanzania and the EU for the past five years has increased from an average of 2,408,899 million USD to 2,617,147 million USD in 2020.
The main exports are agricultural products like coffee, fish, cocoa beans, chickpeas, legumes, avocados, sesame seeds, black tea, cut flowers, and semi-precious stones. While main imports from the EU include electrical machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, and footwear.
The main European countries that Tanzania trades with are Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Poland, Czech, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary.
“The markets with the greatest potential for Tanzania’s exports of All products are Germany, Switzerland, Romania, and Poland,” TANTRADE says.
According to the authority; “Romania shows the largest absolute difference between potential and actual exports in value terms, leaving room to realize additional exports.”
TANTRADE maintains that; “There is underutilized export potential of Tanzanian products to the EU aggregate market.”
TANTRADE officials also see the opportunity for Tanzania to increase exports of agricultural products such as coffee, fish, cocoa beans, chickpeas, black tea, flowers, and semi-precious stones.
According to TANTRADE, to increase market share of Tanzania products in the EU aggregate market, the country should:
- Promote investment in the value chain development of products with potential such as coffee, cocoa beans, black tea, and precious stones.
- Encourage partnership in deep sea fishing.
- Encourage commercialising agricultural produce with high demand such as avocados, sesame seeds, chickpeas, legumes, cut flowers, and chickpeas.
- Attract importation technology to improve the capacities of the industries with products with high demand including the food industries, textile industries (t-shirts and vests/men’s trousers and shorts of cotton etc.