Foreign Relations in Tanzania

Tanzania enjoys relatively solid diplomatic relations with its surrounding, regional partners as well as great powers like China and the United States. Its neighboring partners include Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, which Tanzania holds strategic alliances that benefit them economically and in terms of regional stability. China and the United States remain enormous providers of aid, investment, and economic support to the country. The Tanzanian government seeks to expand its diplomatic relations with other nations in the international system and to improve its foreign partnerships.

China is one of the largest providers of economic assistance to Tanzania, supplying aid in the form of interest free loans for infrastructure and transportation development. However, contrary to patterns of involvement seen elsewhere on the continent and despite historically strong relations, China and Tanzanian foreign relations are beginning to weaken. China is still one of Tanzania’s key diplomatic partners, but as the government has taken a step back on its anti-West rhetoric and taken steps to open the door to Western relationships, its relations with China have begun to cool. Moreover, China itself has begun to limit and reduce its economic and political ties to Tanzania, as other African countries have risen as potentially more powerful allies with more valuable resources.

The United States has also worked to improve relations with Tanzania and to increase its diplomatic ties to the country since the end of the Cold War. The signing of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has doubled US aid in the region and has benefited Tanzania’s development of projects in its transportation, energy, and water sectors. The US also works to promote democracy in Tanzania and on providing resource programs for health, energy, and other methods of sustainable development. The US-Tanzania relationship is based far more on development and aid, as opposed to traditional Tanzania-China relations, which are based far more on mutually beneficial economic ties in addition to aid and developmental support.

With its local allies, Tanzania has adopted a principle of regional integration and works to promote and improve its economic relations within Africa. The goal is to become a competitive player in the international economy and to attract future foreign investments into African countries. A number of different regional partnerships and initiatives are aimed at achieving this goal, including the East African Cooperation and the South Africa Development Cooperation, which include a number of Tanzania’s key regional allies. These partnerships and agreements are all designed to promote regional trade and to encourage economic development and relations within the Africa continent. Nations like South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya are among some of Tanzania’s regional partners and will become more influential in their diplomatic and economic relations as Africa continues to experience economic growth and prosperity. South Africa in particular is an important regional ally for Tanzania, and the two are actively working to strengthen their diplomatic relationship. Presently, South Africa is one of the largest sources of foreign investment in Africa, which bodes well for future economic relationships, as Tanzania works to strengthen its ties to this nation and on the continent more broadly.

As a whole, Tanzania’s foreign relations center on economic and trade advancement, and on development projects to help improve struggling sectors; however, there are apparent differences in its relations with different partners. Regionally, Tanzania’s relations with partners like South Africa and Kenya are centered on mutual economic improvement and to secure future competitiveness in global markets. Whereas, with China and the US these relations are far more dependency oriented and based on aid to Tanzania for development projects. Tanzania’s relations with China compared to the US also differ, with the former centering on both trade agreements and aid, as opposed to just aid and developmental support as seen with its ties to the US. Tanzania’s foreign relations with its key strategic partners are changing, especially as more African powers emerge, which will affect its own regional partnerships and, will no doubt also influence its relations with China, potentially further weakening their traditional ties. (esp. pages 10-12)

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