United States lags behind China in trading with Tanzania

The United States seems to be lagging behind China when it comes to the trade between the two economic giants with Tanzania.

This emerges onto the surface just as the US Vice President Kamala Harris continues with her African Tour whose itinerary also covers two days in Tanzania.

Total value of two-way trade between Tanzania and the two rival superpowers over the past five years from 2017 to 2021, indicates that Dar is more inclined to strike business deals with Beijing than Washington.

The value of the trade between Tanzania and the United States for that period adds up to USD 1.53 Billion, according to data from the Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT).

In the same period again the value of trade between China and Tanzania was nearly four times higher at USD 11.13 Billion as per figures from both BOT and the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

The following is a Five-year trend of Tanzania’s imports from the United States and China

Imports of goods from U.S. to Tanzania

  • 2017 – USD 201.8m
  • 2018 – USD 238m
  • 2019 – USD 42.2m
  • 2020 – USD 241.2m
  • 2021 – USD 261.1m

Imports of goods from China to Tanzania

  • 2017 – USD 1.49bn
  • 2018 – USD 1.76bn
  • 2019 – USD 2.01bn
  • 2020 – USD 2.15bn
  • 2021 – USD 2.69bn

Five-year trend of Tanzania’s exports to United States and China

Exports of goods from Tanzania to the United States

  • 2017 – USD 61.7m
  • 2018 – USD 67.4m
  • 2019 – USD 52.4m
  • 2020 – USD 47m
  • 2021 – USD 39.1m

Exports of goods from Tanzania to China

  • 2017 – USD 141m
  • 2018 – USD 146.9m
  • 2019 – USD 233.7m
  • 2020: USD 238.9m
  • 2021 – USD 272.9m

Buses built in China, such as Higer, Yutong and Zhong Tong, are currently dominating Tanzania’s public transport.

The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) vehicles being deployed for the Dar-es-salaam city services are also being imported from the Golden Dragon Company of China.

When combined with the other Member States in the East African Community, the total exports from Tanzania and neighbors to the United States is estimated at USD 704 million worth of goods shipped North America.

It is however believed that this value dropped slightly during the 2020 and 2021 period when the Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on international trade.


On the other hand, the East African Community is benefiting from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which is the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Enacted in May 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act is the U.S. economic engagement with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The agreement provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for eligible Sub Sahara African nations. In June 2015, the U.S government authorized AGOA for an additional 10 years.

AGOA has succeeded in helping eligible nations grow, diversify their exports to the United States, and create employment and inclusive economic growth. Under AGOA, eligible countries can export products, including value-added manufactured items such as textiles, to the United States duty-free.