There is room for trade improvement between Zimbabwe and China

08:10, June 24, 2010      

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A senior Zimbabwean government official said on Wednesday that there is room for trade improvement between Zimbabwe and China given the two countries' long history of friendly bilateral relations.

Zimbabwean Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Permanent Secretary Desire Sibanda told Xinhua in an interview that Zimbabwe is instituting measures to lure more Chinese investors into the country, and would soon conduct road shows in China to market its investment potential to the Asian giant.

"There are a number of African countries that are trading with China more than ourselves so we need to dramatically improve in that area," he said.

He said the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the country's investment promotion body, is currently being restructured into a one-stop investment shop to enhance efficiency. "China normally trades with countries that have economic zones. Zambia has economic zones where Chinese companies are operating so we also need to expedite operationalization of our one- stop investment shop to lure Chinese investors," Sibanda said.

He said the Zimbabwen government would in the future open an investment office in China to coordinate Chinese investment into Zimbabwe, noting that countries such as Botswana have investment offices in the Asian country.

While Sibanda could not provide latest trade figures between Zimbabwe and China, trade between the two countries was reported to have reached 500 million U.S. dollars in 2008.

This was on the back of continued sound political ties between the two countries and the adoption of the "Look East" policy by the then government of President Robert Mugabe in 2003.

Since the turn of the decade China has become one of Zimbabwe's business partners after Western countries started shunning the Southern African nation over alleged human rights abuses.

The Asian giant has already emerged as the largest single importer of Zimbabwe's key export crop, tobacco. The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board indicated in October last year that although China had not imported tobacco between May and September 2009, the country was still the number one importer with 7. 281 tons.

There are now many Chinese companies operating in Zimbabwe in such sectors as retail, mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

Sibanda said the Chinese were previously worried about the issue of the exchange rate and hyperinflation prevailing in the country prior to the adoption of multiple currencies early last year.

"But now those issues have been sorted out. There is no exchange rate risk in our economy now and the investment climate is highly conducive," he said.

Sibanda said the positive growth in Gross Domestic Product has also made Zimbabwe an attractive investment destination.

Zimbabwe's GDP has risen from negative growth rates of 10 percent in 2008 to around 5 percent now, Sibanda said.

"The Chinese want to invest in growing economies and with our GDP now in the positive territory we believe we are now better placed to attract investment from China," he said.

He said the interest by Chinese investors in Zimbabwe is also seen in the growing number of business delegations that started coming into the country soon after political and economic stability returned to the country following the formation of the inclusive government in February last year.

Sibanda noted that global trade is increasingly moving to Brazil, China, Russia and India and he pointed out that it is imperative for Zimbabwe to follow the trend.

Source: Xinhua


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