Zim-China annual trade hits $1bn

HARARE - Zimbabwe is looking at improving relations with China after annual trade between the two countries breached the $1 billion mark, a government official has said.

Industry deputy minister Raji Modi said government is intensively working at ensuring Chinese investors have access to inject fresh capital and help Zimbabwe achieve its ambitious goal to become a middle income country by 2030.

“Bilateral trade between Zimbabwe and China surpassed the $1 billion mark, almost doubling the 2010 trade figure of around $500 million. There is great scope to increase these trade figures with Zimbabwe,” he said after meeting a visiting Chinese delegation in the capital.

Trade between the two nations has grown exponentially in the past decade with Zimbabwe exporting tobacco, cotton and various minerals to the World’s second largest economy.

Modi said China remains Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) source and the southern African country is opening up its agriculture, construction, manufacturing, services, transport and tourism sectors to Chinese money.

“It is encouraging and most appreciated that an increasing number of Chinese business people have also been visiting Zimbabwe with keen interest to explore business opportunities and establish them in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The deputy minister said apart from tobacco and minerals, Zimbabwe wanted to increase its flower exports to the Asian giant.

“Besides tobacco and minerals, which have been the major export commodities for Zimbabwe to China, we look forward to exporting other agriculture and manufactured goods in the near future. We are glad to note that Zimbabwean flowers have now found a market in China, with demand still growing.

“Further efforts are underway to facilitate the exportation of Zimbabwean citrus fruits and other products to China,” the Bulawayo South Member of Parliament said.

Imports from China range from electrical goods, auto parts to household merchandise, with the most imposing Chinese investment in Zimbabwe being the Long Chen Plaza built by Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation (AFECC) for $200 million in 2013.

In the past, Chinese multinational corporations such as Huawei, Yutong, BAIC, Lenovo, ZTE, CHINT Electrical and Hisense have expressed desire to partner local firms and bring technological development to local suppliers or customers.

However, Chinese investment has been met with contempt by local businesses alleging it is unsustainable.

Victor Bhoroma, a business analyst, recently noted the two countries lack an investment strategy, a situation he said was toxic for Zimbabwe as the investment recipient.

“However, without a clear strategy, Chinese investments may bring negative implications of geopolitical influence and unwarranted foreign debt to Zimbabwe as it has done in other parts of Africa such as Zambia, Djibouti and Kenya,” he said.

In 2014, Chinese miners, Anjin Investments and Jinan were caught in a storm over allegations of smuggling diamonds worth billions of dollars from Chiadzwa. In May this year, the Office of the President and Cabinet released a damning report of funds externalised illegally.

Chinese nationals and companies featured prominently on that list with millions of dollars salted away from the local economy illegally. No action was taken on these individuals by the local authorities.

Yet, State-owned entities such as NetOne and TelOne have also received loans from China valued at over $400 million, which have been integral in telecommunications network expansion locally, thereby improving Internet connectivity.

In transport and communication infrastructure, the Chinese funded the expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport in 2016 to the tune of $150 million, with China Jiangsu International Group being the contractor.

In July this year, Zimbabwe signed another deal valued at $153 million for the expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport with the same financiers and contractor.

The dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway was awarded to the Chinese company Afecc, though the project has already hit a false start and its implementation hangs in the balance.


Comments (1)

Very Good work ED. If other countries cant work with you then China is the ONLY option. MDC advises US to impose sanctions kuti mushaye pekubata. ED must do ALL he can to uplift Zim.

Nyandoro - 22 November 2018

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