Zimbabwe and China strengthen economic cooperation

Jul 08, 2010 02:00 AM

The eighth session of the Zimbabwe-China joint permanent commission ended in Harare with a pledge by the two countries to widen and deepen economic cooperation.
The two countries discussed ways of enhancing various cooperation projects already being implemented and new ones in the energy, agriculture, manufacturing, transport, tourism and water sectors.

An agreement was also signed for China to provide $ 1.5 mm to the China-Zimbabwe Friendship Hospital in Mahusekwa, Mashonaland East Province, for medical equipment and drugs.
The hospital is part of the several projects that include two primary schools and an agricultural demonstration centre that China is constructing in Zimbabwe as part of the eight measures agreed to at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in 2006 in Beijing.

Other support from China includes a $ 200 mm buyer's credit facility extended by the China Exim Bank for procurement of agricultural inputs to boost food production in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi praised China for setting a shining example to other world donors by honouring pledges it made to assist Zimbabwe under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation. Mumbengegwi noted that under the eight measures enunciated by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the FOCAC heads of state summit in Beijing in 2006, projects earmarked for Zimbabwe are now at various stages of completion.

The Chinese government has also dispatched 10 agricultural experts and 23 volunteers to buttress the cooperation.
"By successfully implementing these measures, China has set a shining example for other donors and international cooperating partners who do not always honour their commitments," Mumbengegwi said at the opening of the eighth session.

He said Zimbabwe is also willing to learn and benefit from China's experience and expertise in the economic sphere, which has transformed the country into a global economic powerhouse.
"Zimbabwe will, therefore, welcome Chinese investment and is ready to discuss during the joint commission specific projects in the energy, agriculture, manufacturing, transport, tourism and water sectors," he said.

Mumbengegwi thanked China Exim Bank for extending the $ 200 mm buyer's credit loan repayment period from five to eight years, saying this would give Zimbabwe the breathing space to turn around its economy and enhance capacity to repay loans extended by China.
"The payment of the arrears and extension of the repayment period on the $ 200 mm buyer's credit loan have paved the way for increased cooperation between Zimbabwe and China," he said.

While hailing China as a good example of a reliable and dependent donor partner, Mumbengegwi said he hoped the Asian country will similarly implement new eight measures announced by Premier Wen Jiabao at the fourth ministerial conference of FOCAC held in Egypt last year.
He said the projects that have been identified for implementation in Zimbabwe are in critical sectors of energy, water, health, education, agriculture and social infrastructure. A number of hydro, thermal, gas and solar power projects had been identified in Zimbabwe for investment by Chinese companies, Mumbengegwi said, adding these have capacity to contribute 3,100 MW to the national grid when completed. The output is more than the country's current national energy requirement of 2,100 MW.

Mumbengegwi also said the improved macro-economic environment prevailing in the country should spur economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and China. There is need for finalization of loan applications to finance infrastructure projects submitted to China Exim Bank to help Zimbabwe quickly move from the stabilization phase to sustainable economic growth, he said.
He also called for clear strategies to expedite implementation of various mining projects that Zimbabwe has entered into with various Chinese companies. Zimbabwe, the minister said, also wanted to enhance cooperation with China in such sectors as human resources development, Information Communication Technology and science and technology research.

Chinese deputy minister of industry and commerce Jiang Zengwei hailed Zimbabwe-China economic cooperation, noting that in spite of the difficulties posed by the global economic recession, bilateral trade between Zimbabwe and China has maintained an upward trend.
"In 2009 bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $ 297 mm, up by 5.6 % from the previous year. From that China's exports were $ 156 mm and imports from Zimbabwe were $ 141 mm. In the first four months of this year our bilateral trade stood at $ 224 mm, up by 125 % year on year. From that China's imports from Zimbabwe already exceeded its exports to Zimbabwe, which is $ 125 mm, by 90 % year on year," he said.

He expressed the hope that the two countries would continue to deepen economic cooperation and their traditional friendship dating back to the days of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. He also commended Zimbabwe's political leaders for establishing an inclusive government, saying the new government would enable Zimbabwe to overcome some of its economic challenges and also create a more conducive atmosphere for economic cooperation with China.
"I believe the establishment of the new government will lay a solid foundation for Zimbabwe to overcome the current difficulties and achieve economic recovery and social development."

"The establishment of the new government has also created very good conditions for China and Zimbabwe to conduct further mutual benefit cooperation."
"The Chinese hope that we can strengthen our cooperation with our Zimbabwean counterparts to ensure the smooth operation of the new government and help Zimbabwe to realize the early recovery of its economy and social development," the Chinese deputy minister said.

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