China to help lift Zim­babwe’s econ­omy

Xi says trade ties will im­prove, with pri­or­ity of mod­ern­iz­ing agri­cul­ture, min­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISIT - By ZHAO­HUANXIN in Harare and ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing

The econ­omy and wildlife pro­tec­tion were the high­lights of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s first visit to Zim­babwe, the fifth­largest econ­omy in Africa, and Xi said China is ready to help Zim­babwe op­ti­mize its econ­omy and will in­tro­duce more Chi­nese in­vestors.

Af­ter their meet­ing on Tues­day, the two pres­i­dents wit­nessed the sign­ing of a bi­lat­eral agree­ment on eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion.

The pact was inked at a time that China has be­come a ma­jor trad­ing part­ner of Zim­babwe’s and its largest source of for­eign in­vest­ment. Bi­lat­eral trade reached $1.24 bil­lion last year, a year-on-year in­crease of 12.7 per­cent.

Other deals cov­ered such fields as in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, in­vest­ment and fi­nanc­ing, and wildlife pro­tec­tion.

Zim­bab­wean Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe warmly wel­comed Xi to the talk­sand­said “China is Zim­babwe’s all-weather friend”.

Mu­gabe said his coun­try hopes to learn from China’s ex­pe­ri­ence in so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment, re­ceive more as­sis­tance from China and ex­pand bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in such ar­eas as agri­cul­ture, in­dus­try and in­fra­struc­ture.

Xi said China will en­hance eco­nomic and trade ties be­tween the two coun­tries in pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing and in­vest­ment, while en­cour­ag­ing more Chi­nese com­pa­nies to in­vest in Zim­babwe with a pri­or­ity on mod­ern­iz­ing agri­cul­ture, min­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies also will be en­cour­aged to in­vest in and op­er­ate busi­nesses in the power sec­tor, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions,

and trans­porta­tion and other ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture sec­tors, as well as to in­no­vate on means of fund­ing, the pres­i­dent said.

Yao Guimei, an ex­pert on China-Africa eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sci­ences, said the as­sis­tance and sup­port from China “have in­tro­duced ro­bust sup­port to the eco­nomic growth of Zim­babwe”.

“Of course, China wins the mar­ke­tan­dresources in re­turn, andthe two­sideshaveachieved mu­tual ben­e­fits,” Yao said.

Liu Gui­jin, for­mer spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment for African af­fairs, said that be­cause this was Xi’s first visit to Zim­babwe, it was of “ex­tra­or­di­nary sig­nif­i­cance”. “Zim­babwe is an old friend of China’s, and it has of­fered con­sis­tent, firm­sup­port toChi­nain re­gard to ma­jor is­sues con­cern­ing China,” Liu said.

Xi also said China is will­ing to help other African coun­tries with de­vel­op­ment, and he ex­pressed op­ti­mism about the forth­com­ing Fo­rum on Chi­naAfrica Co­op­er­a­tion Sum­mit in Johannesburg.

Con­tact the writer at zhao­huanxin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Li Lianxing con­trib­uted to this story.

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