Looking east pays off


Hu Ming, business councilor at the Chinese Embassy in Harare, told Xinhua that despite Zimbabwe’s economic difficulties, trade between China and Zimbabwe had surged in the past years and more investment from China had poured into the Southern African country.

“I am very positive about the future of the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries and confident in furthering development of China’s partnership of mutual benefit with Zimbabwe,” Hu said.

Figures from the Chinese Embassy show that the bilateral trade between the two countries hit a new high in 2005, totaling 280 million US dollars. The total trade volume in the first eight months this year reached 210 million US dollars, indicating the bilateral trade this year will surpass that of last year.

According to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese investment in the country stood at over 600 million US dollars so far.

To date, there are over 35 Chinese companies operating in Zimbabwe, and the country continues to benefit from increased cooperation and trade with China, Joey Bimha, the ministry’s permanent secretary, told a gathering recently.

In the past few years Zimbabwe has strengthened its relations with The People’s Republic of China as part of its Look East policy that it adopted in order to attract new trading partners and markets. The two countries have signed a series of cooperation agreements in infrastructures, tourism, energy and mining.

The Chinese councilor said new ways had been found to resolve the shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, perhaps the biggest problem hindering the further development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

With the signing of the agreement on the framework of bilateral development and cooperation in July 2005, Hu said Chinese companies could easily access funds for their joint ventures.

Hu said the Chinese and Zimbabwean governments signed an agreement on preferential loans of 200 million yuan (about 25 million US dollars) in September this year, and in October, a new agreement on purchaser’s credit amounting 200 US dollars was signed between Chinese banks and the Zimbabwean government in a bid to enhance the bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

With these new developments in the bilateral relations, Hu said there was a possibility that the bank loans for the Chinese companies in Zimbabwe could increase to as much as 2 billion to 3 billion US dollars.

“We would like to find a new way and create a new model for the development of the bilateral relations here in trade and economic cooperation with Zimbabwe,” the Chinese councilor said.

Hu said with more investment by the Chinese companies, the trade between the two countries would increase by a big margin. He predicted the total trade volume would go up to 500 million US dollars in 2008.

He said China shared strong historical ties with Zimbabwe and was enjoying increased cooperation on many economic and political fronts. The new partnership between the countries, which is deeply rooted in these strong historical ties, would benefit the two countries and the two peoples in many ways, he added.

The Chinese business councilor has, over the past three years, received hundreds of Chinese delegations who have been coming to Zimbabwe to seek business opportunities. He said bilateral trade and economic cooperation between China and Zimbabwe would enter a new stage in the near future with the concerted efforts by the two governments and peoples.

Zimbabwe’s Look East policy came immediately after its relations with traditional western countries became strained as a result of the country’s land reform program that the government embarked on in 2000 to resettle thousands of formerly disadvantaged black farmers on acquired former white-owned commercial farms.

So far Zimbabwe has signed various trade packages with China and other Asian countries such as India, Russia and Indonesia that have assisted the economic revival of the country. ‘ Xinhua-New Ziana.

October 2006
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