Mayor Opens Tanzanian American Chamber of Commerce

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson at the new Tanzanian American Chamber of Commerce in the International District in North Dallas. | Image by Carlos Turcios/The Dallas Express
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson at the new Tanzanian American Chamber of Commerce in the International District in North Dallas. | Image by Carlos Turcios/The Dallas Express

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson presided over the official opening of a new Tanzanian American Chamber of Commerce in the International District in North Dallas on Monday.

Several local civic leaders attended the event, which was held at the Prism Center. The new chamber aims to promote U.S.-Tanzanian trade and tourism and bolster the city’s foreign relations credentials.

“Our relationship with Tanzania and Africa as a whole has been one of our most important international relationships. And Dallas is home to some of the largest African immigrant communities in the United States,” Johnson told the crowd in attendance.

He underscored Dallas’ pivotal role in fostering robust trade and commerce, particularly in the context of U.S.-Africa relations, further solidifying the city’s reputation as a global business hub.

“This is where everyone on the planet who cares about the business relationship between the United States and the entire continent of Africa is today. For the next few days, they’ll be here in Dallas, Texas, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center,” Johnson said.

More than 1,500 business leaders, heads of state, investors, and U.S. and African governmental officials have convened in Dallas this week for the 2024 U.S.-Africa Business Summit taking place at the convention center May 6-9.

Jeanne Phillips, the chair of the Mayor’s International Advisory Council, told the crowd at the Prism Center that the Tanzanian American chamber had been in the works for a while. She said she was honored to be tasked with helping on the project, noting that she and her team continue to work to make more international connections for the city.

“So we’ve been working towards that end,” Phillips said. “Just a little preview: I think you will see, in the next three years, more of these trade offices opening, and we’re very, very excited about that.”

Ambassador Elsie Kanza, from the Embassy of Tanzania in the United States of America, thanked Mayor Johnson for the initiative.

“What a journey it has been, as my brother Mayor Johnson articulated at the outset. On behalf of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the right honorable Mayor Eric Johnson of the City of Dallas for extending this invitation to Tanzania to join this visionary initiative,” Kanza said.

The Dallas Express asked Johnson why the initiative was so important for the city.

“Diversification of our investment portfolio, so to speak,” he responded. “I want Dallas to have the most dynamic and robust economy in the world and certainly in the United States.”

Johnson said his goal was to bring more foreign businesses to Dallas and make it an international hub for business and trade.

“I want to see foreign countries, their large corporations, when they look at where they are going to center their American operations, [say], ‘You know what? I think our North American headquarters should be in Dallas, Texas. Not New York, not D.C., — Dallas,'” Johnson told DX.

When asked whether Dallas’ crime rate has affected talks with foreign businesses or governments, Johnson said the topic had been brought up.

“You know, crime in the United States makes international news. Other countries do look at the United States … respectfully, critically, and [they’re] sort of perplexed by what they perceive to be a high level of gun violence or other levels of crime,” Johnson told DX. “When we are talking internationally, crime comes up.”

Johnson told DX that while Dallas’ crime rate is not where it should be, the City is working to get it under control.

“Is Dallas where I want it to be in terms of crime yet? No. We are not there yet. Is Dallas unquestionably moving in that direction? Are things getting better or worse in Dallas in terms of crime? They are getting better, for sure,” Johnson told DX.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, violent crime has been on the decline the last couple of years, however, overall criminal activity — particularly property crimes — have been steadily increasing amid a significant police shortage that has the City fielding only around 3,000 officers when roughly 4,000 are considered necessary to police a jurisdiction the size of Dallas, according to a City analysis.

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