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Interview with Chinese Ambassador Lu Youqing by MLIMANI TV
2012/05/23
 

On May 18, 2012, H.E. Lu Youqing, Chinese Ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania, had an interview with Mlimani TV of Dar es Salaam. Excerpt of the interview is as following:

Question (Q)1. What are the specific functions of the Economic and Commercial Representation of the Chinese Embassy here in Dar es Salaam?

A: The Economic and Commercial Representation is an important department of the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania. It is in charge of China-Tanzania economic and trade cooperation affairs, including promotion of exporting Tanzanian products to Chinese market, introducing Chinese enterprises to invest in Tanzania and administration on Chinese government-aid projects in Tanzania.

Q2. What is the current status of the Chinese economic and business relations with Tanzania in terms of imports to both countries? (Does Tanzania also export to China? What type of commodities?)

A: China-Tanzania trade increased steadily in recent years. In 2011, the total trade volume between our two countries reached 2.15 billion US Dollars, a 30% increase than that of 2010, of which China's import was 488 million US Dollars, increased by 20%, and China’s export was 1.66 billion US Dollars, increased by 33%. Major products exported from Tanzania to China are cashew nut, sisal and sesame etc. Since July 2010, the Government of China has granted to Tanzania duty exemption treatment for 60% of Tanzania’s products to China, which is a move to encourage Tanzania increase export to China.

Q3. What are the main sectors where the Chinese people have heavily invested in Tanzania?

A: According to the statistics from Tanzania Investment Center, by the end of year 2010, there are more than 300 Chinese companies registered in Tanzania, with total registration capital about 868 million US dollars. Chinese investment covered various fields including agriculture, construction, manufacture, transport, telecommunication, service, natural resources and tourism. Investments by Chinese companies mainly focus on the manufacturing field which takes up over 70%.

Q4. Many of the Chinese construction companies have proved reliable and efficient in different sectors in Tanzania. However there are those which failed to deliver to their works or job on time as per the established contracts. How do you go about that?

A: As you have said, Chinese construction companies have very good mechanical equipments and technical skills. For a long time, these Chinese companies contributed to the infrastructure construction in Tanzania like roads and so on. But in recent years some of the projects progress slow and even can’t be completed on schedule. As for this issue, The Minister for Works of Tanzania may provide a more reliable answer. As he explained, the delay of work is due to outstanding payment by project owner to the Chinese company. As far as we know, up to 20th January 2012, the outstanding payment by the project owners to 11 Chinese companies for 37 road projects is as much as 190 Billion Shillings (approximately 120 Million US Dollars). The outstanding payment to only one Chinese company, for example, the China Henan International Corporation Group reaches 63.1 Billion Shillings.

We take this opportunity to appeal to the concerned project owners to fulfill the project payment timely according to the contract, to ensure the project being completed on time and to bring benefit to Tanzania people as soon as possible.

Q5. There are lots of goods imported from China. What is your reaction to the claims that some of commodities from China are of very low quality? (Such as carsmotor cycles as well as some home appliances).

A: Tanzanian people like Chinese products, and this is true for African people and all consumers of the whole world, because Chinese products are of good quality and reasonable price and have a “high cost performance”. At present, China already becomes the biggest export nation of the world.

According to the law of value in economics, high quality means high price, low quality means low price. What we are against is fake product. Fake products exist all over the world. In China, to make and sell fake products is a criminal offence. Chinese Government tried best to crackdown on fake goods and to improve the quality of Chinese products. Next month, we will hold “2012 Brand of China, African Showcase” at Sabasaba Ground. We welcome you and other friends from Tanzanian media to visit it and see the quality of Chinese products. I also hope the Tanzanian authority could take stricter measures to crackdown on importing and selling of fake products.

Q6. There are claims that some Chinese companies do not like to employ indigenous people (Tanzanians) and even if they employ them, the employee end up being paid low wages. What is your response to that? 

 A: According to the statistics of TIC, Chinese companies have created more than 60,000 working opportunities and trained many skilled technicians for Tanzania. The Tanzanian people are diligent and pure, which I appreciate very much. Our Embassy had 5 local employees and decided to employ 2 more after my arrival. During International Labor Day, I visited the East African Branch of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and sent holiday greetings and presented the workers with allowance. Among these workers, 85% are locals. Another example is Huawei Technology which is a high-tech Company. 65% of its employees are Tanzanian. I visited this company recently and the one who briefed me was a local engineer.

I always require the Chinese companies to obey Tanzanian laws and try their best to employ more locals. More than that, they need to treat the locals kindly, teach them knowledge and skills, provide reasonable salary according to their skills and contribution. If you find any Chinese company which provides salary lower than law requested, please let our Economic and Commercial Representation Office know. We will take it seriously and give you a favorable feedback. 

Q7. There are some Chinese people who involve themselves in microeconomic activates, example, selling fruits in places like Kariakoo which is against Tanzania’s law of investment. What is your comment to that?

A: I also heard this kind of reports. But as I learned, most of the Chinese businessmen in Kariakoo are for wholesale, and some of them sell products they have produced in their factories in Tanzania. The Tanzania government, Kariakoo Management Authority and customers welcome Chinese businessmen. They said that Kariakoo will not become the largest distribution center in East Africa if there are no Chinese businessmen and products. The Chinese businessmen contributed to Tanzania by paying tax, rent and creating jobs for the locals.

China encourages its companies to invest in Tanzania, and asks them to abide by the local laws and benefit the local people. China will further educate its businessmen in Tanzania and support the Tanzanian government to clean its market by law.

Q8. How do your business firms or establishments directly benefit Tanzanians?

A: In short words, Chinese products with “high cost performance” improved the life of local people, and Chinese investment created working opportunities for the Tanzanians. I have explained it clearly in your 6th question.

Q9. China has very high technologies as compared to Tanzania, how do you help Tanzania in improving its technologies?

A: On the one hand, Chinese Government has been supporting Chinese enterprises to increase their investment in Tanzania through grants and concessional loans, especially in agricultural and manufacturing industry. On the other hand, Chinese government emphasizes on the cooperation of human resources, and to improve the skills and knowledge of fellow Tanzanians, more than 300 Tanzanians go to China for training each year, and this year we want to increase the number to 400 or 500, covering economy, finance, management, poverty-alleviation, Special Industrial Zone, agriculture, small scale hydro-power, fishery, medics and health.

Q10. What is your final word to the government and people of Tanzania in terms of economic relations with your countries?

A: China and Tanzania are all-weathered friends. We are expanding our cooperation in economy and trade, and the potentials are huge in the future. I hope the Tanzanian government could further improve the investment environment, set favorable conditions to attract more FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) including Chinese investment. I also wish the Tanzanian government could fully use its comparative advantages, increase the export of Tanzanian products to China, and developing our bilateral trade in a more balancing way.

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Mlimani TV is sponsored by Dar es Salaam University and its main audience includes university students and young people in Tanzania.

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