Happiness Zengeni and Tinashe Makichi
Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes are set to change dramatically once it is admitted into an exclusive group of countries being targeted by China for investment.
International Co-operation Centre-National Development Reform Commission of China director-general Dr Cao Wenlian told a China-Zimbabwe Business Forum yesterday that China was looking at admitting Zimbabwe into the priority list of African countries the Asian giant targets for investment.
There are five African countries currently on the list out of 45 around the world. The African countries are South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique. Investment by China is likely to see the right cues to other investors across the world about Zimbabwe as a prime destination for their investments given the Asian country’s stature.
This comes after Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa last week said Zimbabwe could not afford to ignore the need to deepen economic and trade relations with China, the world’s second biggest economy and a large consumer of most primary exports.
Dr Cao said China and Zimbabwe had initiated a number of bilateral co-operation agreements which laid a good foundation for the historic visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping today, the first of its kind in 20 years.
He said opportunities for potential co-operation are in the railway, aviation, highway spaces, industrial infrastructure, human resources development, science and technology and Special Economic Zones.
Dr Cao said the ICC-NDRC was already working with Government to push for the legislative and policy framework to drive two SEZs in particular; Sunway City and Victoria Falls.
“We will look into guidelines for the operationalisation, construction and management of Sunway City and Victoria Falls.
“We will prioritise the first batch of capacity co-operation projects. We have screened out a dozen of projects for exploration. At the same time we will remove the bottlenecks that are hindering the implementation of projects that have already been identified,” said Dr Cao through an interpreter.
Dr Cao said China would also look into capacity building in Government sectors through HR training programmes.
He said the two countries had reached an agreement to make available funding for mining, industry, tourism and economic planning training for Government officials.
In China, Dr Cao said, they would create an investment promotion platform for the Zimbabwe Embassy which would provide better service for investors.
He said China would push for the usage of the Chinese Yuan in Zimbabwe. His comments come after the International Monetary Fund was yesterday expected to give China’s yuan global reserve status.
“A team of financial experts has been put together to investigate the potential of the use of renminbi in the country,” he said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr John Mangudya said Zimbabwe and the People’s Bank of China were finalising a yuan bilateral payments facility to enable the country to access further funding.
“We are engaging the People’s Bank of China to have a yuan facility to be used by traders and business people to improve circulation of the Chinese currency in our economy,” Dr Mangudya said adding that repayments would be made from future cash flows.
The facility will come in the form of a bond or currency swap.
“The bottom line is that business between the two countries should remain stable because if there is no stability it means you will never resolve the balance of payment system under the bilateral payment system.”