Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 1/28/2019

U.S. exporters and service providers interested in exploring commercial opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa should strongly consider Tanzania.  Tanzania has an ambitious industrialization plan to transform into a middle-income economy by 2030.  Energy and transportation infrastructure sectors must become more reliable and efficient if Tanzania is to reach this goal.  The Government of Tanzania (GoT) is focusing on developing local industries and making large investments in infrastructure and energy sector development, which present opportunities for U.S. exports.
The United Republic of Tanzania has sustained 6-7 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth since the late 1990s due to a relatively stable political environment, reasonable macroeconomic policies, structural reforms, resiliency from external shocks, and debt relief. However, recently adopted GoT policies have raised questions about long-term prospects for foreign direct investment (FDI) and has fostered a more challenging business environment.  Growth has been driven primarily by transportation, communications, agriculture, manufacturing, electricity, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, and business services. 
Tanzania’s main trading partners are China, India, the European Union (EU) and neighboring Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) countries.  Tanzania’s exports to the United States are dominated by agricultural commodities, minerals, and textiles while imports from the United States include wheat, agricultural and transport equipment, chemicals, used clothing, and machinery.

Basic Economic Statistics: (2017/2018)

  • Real GDP growth in 2017: 7.1 percent
  • Nominal GDP – 2016 (current) $47.39 billion
  • GDP per capita – 2017: $1,021.0
  • Consumer price inflation: Annual headline inflation averaged 3.3 percent in the quarter ending September 2018, slightly lower than 6.0 percent in the corresponding quarter in 2017.  Food inflation dropped significantly to an average of 2.4 percent from 11.0 percent due to increases in production.  Non-food inflation averaged 4.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent.
  • Total Exports: $4,827.8 million for 2017
  • Total Imports: $7,551.7 million for 2017
  • Exports to the USA: $124 million (USDOC)
  • Imports from the USA: $145 million (USDOC)
  • Tanzanian shilling depreciated against USD from TZS 2232.8 on December 31, 2017 to TZS 2299.89 on December 31, 2018
  • Average lending rate on short term loan: 18.28 percent (Dec 2017)
  • Population Total: 51 million (2017)

Sources: National Bureau of Statistics – Tanzania, Bank of Tanzania and International Currency Exchange

Natural Resources
Tanzania has abundant natural resources with productive use implications for agriculture, mining, energy, and tourism. The country has 44 million hectares of arable fertile land with only about 33 percent currently under cultivation.  Resources include diamonds, gemstones, gold, coal, iron, uranium, helium, graphite, nickel, forest products, domesticated livestock, wildlife, fish and marine resources, natural gas, and oil. Primary exports in terms of value include gold and tobacco, while key imports are capital and consumer goods.

Most of Tanzania’s land mass consists of the inland plateau rising gently from the coastal belt and stretching 1,000 kilometers, with three major islands along the Indian Ocean – Unguja and Pemba Islands (Zanzibar) and Mafia.  These great East African lakes—Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa—are partly within Tanzania.  The country has the African Rift Valley with impressive natural features including the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest peak in Africa) and rivers and streams with clean water and hydroelectric potential.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.