In his address to a joint sitting of the Kenyan Parliament, President Kikwete said his country recognised its neighbour as a partner rather than a competitor noting that Kenya is Tanzania’s largest trade partner ahead of South Africa.
“I want to assure you that nothing will change, even after I have left office; I know my country very well, unless we get someone who is incredibly irrational – and there are very few of such people in Tanzania – that he believes that engagement with Kenyan is meaningless and should be done away with,” said the Tanzania Head of State.
He continued: “The result is he will be breeding poverty, because if the bulk of our trade is with Kenya, if you break those ties, will we eat the cotton that we produce?”
He said Tanzania has been transforming its economy and investment climate making it one of the most preferable places for business.
“What is US$1.6 billion of investment? we can absorb more investments from Kenya. The opportunities are plenty… in the oil and gas, energy, mining, transport, agribusiness, manufacturing, ICT, healthcare, education and many more,” said President Kikwete.
The Tanzanian Head of State added: “Moreover the business environment is both conducive and permissive. Investments are safe in Tanzania. No fear of nationalization, we stopped doing that.”
The assurance comes after recent crackdown on immigrants in Tanzania that saw several Kenyan and Ugandan workers such as teachers expelled from the country. Kenya has held generally amicable relations with its southern neighbour, albeit likened to sibling rivalry at times.
President Kikwete who also the chairman of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit assured of his country’s unwavering commitment to the EAC coming in the wake of a diplomatic spat with fellow bloc partners who accused him of dragging down the fast-tracking of regional protocols.
“It is my belief that if the EAC state partners will not unite, our competitive edge in the international markets will be greatly reduced. We will always back the EAC Integration agenda and we’ll do all we can to ensure that the agenda is implemented as we agreed,” he said.
Before concluding his three-day state visit, the Tanzanian President also assured parliamentarians that Tanzania’s polls slated for October 25 will be peaceful exuding confidence that his party’s candidate John Magufuli will emerge victorious.