The Sino-Zimbabwe trade and economic cooperation has entered a brand-new development stage in the wake of the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum last year, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Yuan Nansheng said fundamental changes have taken place in the bilateral relations and economic cooperation between the two countries since last year's summit.
China has now become the second largest trade partner of Zimbabwe, after South Africa, and China is also the biggest tobacco buyer from Zimbabwe, with the total trade volume between the two countries reaching 275 million U.S. dollars in 2006, while a few years ago, China was not even among the top ten trade partners of Zimbabwe, according to the Chinese ambassador.
According to the figures from the economic and commercial counsellor's office of the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe has bought more than 100,000 tons of fertilizers and pesticides from China with a 200 million dollars buyer's credit loan offered by the Chinese banks, and China also put in place nearly 20 million dollars to improve the telecommunications facilities in Zimbabwe under a 300 million dollars agreement signed a few years ago.
Also, Zimbabwe's largest bus company Zupco has newly bought 55 luxurious buses and various motor parts from China's FAW since last year.
Yuan said the action plan adopted at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum last year has also boosted Chinese investment in this southern African country.
China becomes the investor with the fastest direct foreign investment growth in Zimbabwe, replacing the western countries.
The Sino-Zimbabwe Cement Company has become one of the largest cement producers in Zimbabwe with its quality products exported to many countries in South African region, earning Zimbabwe millions of U.S. dollars.
The construction of a large-scale modern glass producing and processing center by Jingniu Group, one of the renowned Chinese glass producers, is in full swing in Kadoma, an industrial city in central Zimbabwe.
With a planned investment of 400 million dollars and occupying an area of 100 hectares, China Jingniu Glass Factory in Zimbabwe is expected to be completed in five years.
To bring into reality the action plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the Chinese government plans to build two rural schools and an agricultural technology experimenting center in Zimbabwe in the near future, Yuan said.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe last week commissioned 424 tractors imported from China at more than 25 million dollars to be used by tobacco contract farmers under agricultural concern, Farmers' World.
The consignment also included disc harrows. These tractors were imported with a preferential loan provided by the Chinese government last year, Yuan said.
In January this year, the first 15-member group of the Chinese young volunteers for Africa was sent to Zimbabwe, and they have joined hands with their local counterparts to contribute to Zimbabwe's economic and social development, Yuan said.
The trade and economic cooperation between China and Zimbabwe in the new historical period will focus on the agriculture sector and on the interests and benefits of local ordinary people, Yuan said.
China has committed to helping Zimbabwe to develop the agricultural production in a bid to secure the food of local people against the sanctions by the Western countries and the droughts, he explained.
The Chinese ambassador said he hopes there is a greater success in the cooperation between the two countries within five years, with the total trade expected to surge to 500 million dollars in 2008.
He said Zimbabwe will see more Chinese assistance and investment in agriculture and mining, and the Chinese companies will help Zimbabwe to build more projects in the country's infrastructure field.