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Interview: Sino-Zimbabwean economic partnership presents rosy picture

Xinhua | October 24, 2006

Interview: Sino-Zimbabwean economic partnership presents rosy picture

The Sino-Zimbabwean trade and economic cooperation presents a rosy picture as the Zimbabwean government’s Look East policy has created opportunities for the Chinese investors, a Chinese diplomat said here on Monday.

Despite the difficulties on the road of economic development of Zimbabwe, there has been a big surge in trade between China and Zimbabwe in the past years and more investment from China has poured into this Southern African country, Hu Ming, business councilor from the Chinese embassy in Harare, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Monday.

"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 showed that the bilateral trade between the two countries hit a new high in 2005, totaling 280 million U.S. dollars. The total trade volume in the first eight months this year has reached 210 million dollars, indicating the bilateral trade of this year will surpass that of last year.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe, 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 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 have been found to resolve the shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, which is perhaps the biggest problem that hinders 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 the Chinese companies can easily get access to 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 dollars) in September this year, and in October, a new agreement on purchaser’s credit amounting to 200 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 is a possibility that the bank loans for the Chinese companies in Zimbabwe could expand to as large as 2 billion to 3 billion 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 that with more investment by the Chinese companies, the trade between the two countries will surely be increased in a big margin. He predicted the total trade volume will go up to 500 million 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 will benefit the two countries and the two peoples in many ways, he added.

The Chinese business councilor has received hundreds of Chinese delegations who are touring in Zimbabwe to seek business opportunities over the past three years. He said he believes that the bilateral trade and economic cooperation between China and Zimbabwe will enter a new stage in the near future with the concerted efforts by the two governments and peoples.

 source: People’s Daily