Speaking soon after the inauguration of TanTrade’s new board of directors by the Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr Cyril Chami last Tuesday, the new chairperson, Ms Sabetha Mwambenja said despite everything, her team was determined to tackle them all head on.
“The challenges are enormous and awesome but we have decided to maker a difference,” Ms Mwambenja, a retired banker, said. They would take the minister’s speech as a working document, she added.
“Your speech has elaborated the key areas needed to solve the problems related to the promotion of the internal and external trade of our country. We shall draw from its insights very effectively,” said Ms Mwambenja who steered the Exim Bank to be among the top seven banks in the country and one of the fastest growing.
TanTrade was formed last year from the twinning of the Board of External Trade (BET) and the Board of Internal Trade (BIT). However, since the merger, internal trade was almost left orphaned with almost no policies to guide its promotion in the market economy context.
Challenges facing domestic trade include lack of sectorial coordination and proper policy to protect local industries from cheap imports, adding value to farm produce and imperfect markets.The Minister challenged the board to come up with practical suggestions and solutions to promote both internal and external trade, with emphasis on the promotion of domestic trade.
“There is no economy in this world that has excelled in international trade without developing its internal capacity first. There is need to develop a strong regulatory framework that will oversee smooth domestic and international trade promotion and facilitation...This is your first challenge,” Dr Chami told the new nine member Board.
He advised the board to not only concentrate on the annual mid year international trade exhibition at the Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere Grounds—Sabasaba—but also to come up with other activities to promote, advocate and organise more trade activities in and outside the country.
Also, there is no market data about internal trade, something that makes it hard to integrate it with other sectors because there is virtually no informnation about it.The minister reminded the board about the acheivements of the industrialisation drive for import substitution of the early 1970s and 1980s, under Father of the Nation and Founder President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
The policy is almost dead.The board also was tasked to come up with suggestions on how to bring into the tax bracket some 2.7million traders in informal sector but with minimal cost of collecting the revenue.