China to start buying soybeans from Tanzania as it seeks new suppliers

Soybeans are a key source of protein for animal feed in China. Photo: AFP China, the world’s biggest importer of soybeans, is opening its market to Tanzania as it seeks to reduce its reliance on the United States and Brazil for supplies of the oilseed.
Wu Peng, director of African affairs at China’s foreign ministry, said an agreement had been reached on Monday for Tanzania to start exporting soybeans to the country. He said it was in line with Beijing’s pledge to support African nations by expanding imports especially beyond natural resources made during the Forum on China Africa Cooperation in 2018.
“Both China and Africa stand to benefit from stronger trade ties,” Wu added. At present, China’s imports from Africa are dominated by natural resources such as crude oil, copper, cobalt, iron ore and diamonds, which it buys to meet its industrial and manufacturing needs.
In return, Africa imports machinery, electronics and manufactured consumer goods from China.
China invests billions in Africa
Tanzania is the latest African nation to sign a deal with Beijing allowing agricultural exports into the country, helping to narrow the trade deficit which has been mostly in China’s favour. Other African countries with such deals include Kenya (avocados, tea, coffee and roses), Ethiopia (coffee and soybeans), Namibia (beef), Botswana (beef and by-products), South Africa (fruit) and Rwanda (coffee).
There is a sizeable trade gap between Tanzania and China. In 2018, China bought goods worth US$393.92 million from Tanzania – mainly sesame, sisal, tobacco and cashew nuts, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Beijing meanwhile export- ed goods worth some US$3.59 billion to Tanzania that year.
Mbelwa Kairuki, Tanzania’s ambassador to China, told Beijing-based consultancy Development Reimagined in an interview earlier this month
that China was ranked fifth on Tanzania’s export list and it accounted for 3.9 per cent of the country’s total exports.
China is also Tanzania’s top buyer of sesame seeds, account- ing for 80 per cent of exports, he said. “In 2019, we made US$164.5 million from our ex- ports of sesame to China alone,” Kairuki was quoted as saying.
Tanzania’s embassy in Bei- jing said China’s demand for soybeans was estimated at 103 million tonnes per year – 15 million of which are produced locally with the rest imported.