Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete speaks in an interview with Chinese reporters just before the Chinese president's arrival in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, March 23th, 2013. [Photo: Xinhua]
Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete says Chinese President Xi Jinping's decision to include Tanzania in his first overseas trip speaks volumes about the good relationship between the two countries. He also defended China-African cooperation against critics who have called it "neo-colonialism." He says Tanzania is ready to increase its cooperation with China and welcomes Chinese investment. CRI's Shen Ting has more.
In an interview with Chinese reporters just before the Chinese president's arrival in Dar es Salaam, Kikwete says they are excited about the visit.
''First let me say we are humbled by the decision of President Xi Jinping that in his first overseas visit he would also include Tanzania to be the first country in Africa in his visit. To us it speaks volumes about the good relationship that exists between China and Tanzania. But also it speaks volumes about the good will that President Xi Jinping has for Tanzania. To us it is something very welcome. We are excited about it. It's going to consolidate our relationship.''
Kikwete also defended China-African cooperation against critics who have called it "neo-colonialism."
"Why when we have relations with the others there is no problem? But when we have relations with China, oh boy! So many questions! If we have a China-Africa forum, we look for investments, technology, markets and development assistance. This is all we are getting from China. Our relationship with China is about that. With the US is about that, with Europe is about that, with Japan is about that, with India is about that. So if the issue is neo- colonialism then it is with everybody."
Kikwete says Tanzania is ready to continue cooperation with China.
"We have very vibrant cooperation built by the first generation of leaders, and then continue the successive generations. It is actually a continuation of the cooperation and friendship between our two countries. So our expectation of him is continue cooperation, friendship and solidarity. Our promise to the new leadership in China is that they will find us ready for continued cooperation, for friendship and solidarity as we have been doing over the many years."
Kikwete says he hopes to boost his country's exports with China.
However, he told a group of Chinese reporters that the country is facing a number of constraints such as investment.
"Trade has increased tremendously between China and Tanzania. And also, I agree with you, that China sells more to Tanzania than what Tanzania sells to China. This is something that we need to change. But how do you change that? We have an acute supply-side constraint. There is so much we can do but we cannot do it now because out major constraint is investment. "
Kikwete said he wants to further tap into the Chinese market, so long as Tanzania can secure investment.
''Because the market is there. And the FOCAC, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, we have market access, duty free, quota free access to the Chinese market on a number of goods. But most African countries have not been able to make use of that because of supply side constraint. So that's one of the things we are actually encouraging is to see more investment, more investment from China, from Europe, from America, from all over the world.''
China has become Tanzania's largest trading partner and second largest source of investment. Bilateral trade reached nearly 2.5 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 15.2 percent year on year.
For now, China has invested more than 1 billion US dollars in Tanzania's agriculture, manufacturing, energy, minerals, infrastructure and other sectors.
For CRI, I am Shen Ting.