By Pearl Matibe
The U.S. Department of Commerce has unveiled the U.S.-Tanzania Commercial Dialogue, marking a significant stride in U.S.-African relations. This Commercial Dialogue is viewed by the U.S. as a resounding testament to America’s commitment to enhancing trade and investment relations with African nations.
The announcement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Tanzania’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr. Ashatu Kijaji.
The U.S.-Tanzania Commercial Dialogue is poised to invigorate two-way trade and investment by focusing on four key domains: the digital economy, market access, regulatory and business climate reform, and trade missions and fairs.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, radiating optimism, remarked, “With the signing of this memorandum, I am thrilled to declare the inception of the U.S.-Tanzania Commercial Dialogue. This initiative represents a pivotal stride in our shared commitment to amplify bilateral trade and investment prospects, ensuring the mutual prosperity of our businesses and citizens.”
The genesis of this dynamic partnership can be traced back to February 2023 when Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago visited Tanzania. During her visit, she collaborated with key stakeholders, including the Minister of Finance and Planning and the Minister of Investment, Industry, and Trade, laying the foundation for the Commercial Dialogue.
The chief aim of this collaboration is to provide an avenue for business and government leaders to fortify trade relations and cultivate a business-friendly environment, thereby creating opportunities for the U.S. private sector and generating employment in both the United States and Tanzania.
In a concerted effort to ensure transparency and responsible international business conduct, the U.S. Departments of State, Labor, Health and Human Services, Commerce, and the U.S. Agency for International Development have issued a joint Business Advisory for Uganda.
The U.S. views this advisory as serving as a critical caution to U.S. businesses, individuals, and entities considering business operations in Uganda, raising awareness of potential risks in the region.
The advisory places a spotlight on two paramount concerns. Firstly, it underscores the deep-seated issue of endemic corruption in Uganda, a factor that poses substantial financial and reputational risks to businesses and organizations operating in the country. Detailed insights on this matter can be found in the 2023 Investment Climate Statement.
Secondly, the advisory shines a light on pressing human rights violations in Uganda, including incidents of violence directed at human rights activists, media personnel, health workers, members of minority groups, LGBTQI+ individuals, and political dissidents.
The U.S. has documented these violations and detailed them in its 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Uganda. Of particular concern is Uganda’s enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which further exacerbates these issues, leading to curtailments of freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly and raising questions regarding the respect for leases and employment contracts.
The U.S. has indicated that its advisory serves as a vital tool to inform U.S. businesses and individuals who are either currently engaged in or contemplating business activities in Uganda, guiding them to prudently assess the associated risks and implications in their decision-making processes.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise on U.S. foreign policy, and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe