Zimbabwe wriggles itself out of economic problems with China's support

17:17, July 09, 2010      

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With virtually the whole donor community having shut its doors on assisting, Zimbabwe pull itself out of a decade-long economic meltdown, the country is counting on China's continued support in areas of trade and economic cooperation.

Although China is not giving money for free, Zimbabwe realizes that it may be the only ally, for the time being, which can assist it paddle through some of its problems in joint ventures that present win-win opportunities to locals and their foreign partners and increase industrial capacity utilization.

China has over the past few years supported Zimbabwe's land reform program, including extending a 200 million U.S. dollar concessional buyers' loan whose repayment period it recently extended from five to eight years and provided humanitarian support during the 2008/9 cholera epidemic.

Zimbabwe has also benefitted immensely from projects being undertaken under the auspices of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), through which China is provided two primary schools and a hospital in rural Marondera at Mahusekwa growth point.

China's support under FOCAC is more robust in the agriculture sector and is building an agriculture demonstration centre at Gwebi Agricultural College to help boost yields. It has also dispatched agricultural experts and other volunteers to Zimbabwe to assist the project.However, Zimbabwe now sees a bigger window of opportunity in joint ventures and wants Chinese companies to partner locals in the exploitation of resources.

So far, Chinese companies have entered into joint ventures with local partners in the production and processing of tobacco and rice.China has also taken a keen interest in supporting agricultural production on the continent as a way of supporting its own economy and to cater for its growing middle class.

State-owned China Tobacco has already gone into contract tobacco farming with locals, boosting production and generating higher incomes for the local community.

Zimbabwe is also keen on value addition so that finished goods generate more income. To that extent, Chinese companies are exploring prospects with more Zimbabwean counterparts in the planting, processing and exporting of tobacco and cotton.

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