So, President Kikwete, can you help us work through our Nexen problem?

- October 4th, 2012
Jakaya Kikwete and Stephen Harper

OTTAWA – Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete “schools me” after I asked today how his government would handle a foreign investment opportunity from a country that doesn’t share Tanzania’s and Canada’s democratic values. This pic was snapped in 237-C of the House of Commons by PMO photographer Jason Ransom.

The Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, is in Canada this week on an official visit. This afternoon, after meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the two men took some questions from reporters. The press were allotted a total of four questions, two from each country’s press corps. The Canadian press corps gets further subdivided into one English-language question and one French-language question. Hélène Buzzetti of Le Devoir asked the French-language question,  a question that was really only for Harper as it was about the Port of Montreal. The English-language reporters — CP, Bloomberg, Toronto Star, Reuters, Postmedia and Sun — came to a consensus that we wanted to ask Harper about the Nexen deal and I drew the straw to put the question to the PM. But, given that Tanzania also relies heavily on foreign investment to develop its resource sector, I thought it would be interesting to hear President Kikwete’s views on how Tanzania handles investment proposals from companies that originate in countries, like China, that do not share Tanzania’s democratic values. 

Not sure Kikwete knew exactly what he was getting into, but here’s what had to say about that:

Well, I’ve been asked to comment on how do we welcome investments from a country which does not have credible democratic relations. Well, we have an Investment Code which every investor has to subscribe to. If he or she meets the conditionalities provided for in that Investment Code, he or she is eligible. Unfortunately, democracy is not one of those issues in our Investment Code so if that is your question.

Let me also, it surprises me because it is the major democratic economies of the West that are major investors in China. I think I’ve said it all. Because I’ve been to China. I visited a number of factories there. I visited Toyota. I visited one Toyota plant manufactures 600,000 cars and they were telling me that they have three of those plants in China. At Tianjin, I saw Canadian flags, American flags, European flags. So what is this question all about?

As for Harper’s response to the latest Nexen stuff, be sure to check the story my colleague Daniel Proussalidis filed on the subject.

Categories: Economy, Foreign Affairs, Politics

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1 comment

  1. Sumar Patel says:

    Tanzania is a budding democracy and what Kikwete was saying is that it learnt about the democratic ideals from countries whose flags he saw displayed in Tianjin, China. So if companies from ‘democratic’ countries can invest in a country whose democratic credentials you are questioning why should not that country invest in the other country.

    Tanzania is a poor country that needs tons of investment. It can hardly afford to be choosy about which country the investment originates from. A full-fledged western style democratic system straight after independence would have meant political parties along racial, tribal and religious lines. This would have ruined Tanzania. After independence Tanzania steered its own political course and along the way it was helped by countries like Canada. The scourge of Africa, particularly black Africa, is tribalism. And Tanzania has prevented it from rearing its ugly head. With this, Tanzania can focus on the more important issues of governance, economic development, education, disease (malaria and aids) and urbanisation.

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