Lovemore Chikova Assistant Editor
Zimbabwe and China have signed grants worth RMB400 million (US$58,1 million) on the sidelines of a follow-up meeting to agreements made during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held last year.
The follow-up meeting of the FOCAC coordinators was held in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, with Zimbabwe being represented by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo.
Ministers from 52 other African countries, including representatives of the African Union Commission, attended the follow-up meeting.
A Memorandum of Agreement on wildlife protection worth millions of dollars was also signed between Zimbabwe and China, while agreements on the Phase 3 Netone expansion project will be signed in the coming weeks.
It is expected that in the near future, Zimbabwe will sign another agreement with China to export citrus to the Asian country.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri are also heading for China to discuss further areas of cooperation.
Minister Shiri is expected to attend the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo being held today and tomorrow in the Asian country’s Hunan province.
The trade expo is an outcome of the FOCAC Beijing Summit.
Apart from the grants that have been signed so far and the investments that have come Zimbabwe’s way in the past, there is still more that the country needs to do to attract further foreign direct investment from China.
The country would need to continue working on its initiatives to create an environment characterised by the ease of doing business and constant investment policies that benefit both the investor and the country.
The coming in of institutions such as the envisaged Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency is one of the panacea to creating conditions that are constant with a country that values foreign direct investment.
Speaking to The Herald in an interview yesterday, Chinese embassy counsellor Mr Zhao Baogang said the meeting by the coordinators of FOCAC agreements was successful.
“Last year we held a successful FOCAC where eight initiatives were outlined,” he said. “Many African countries, including Zimbabwe, submitted a list of their priority projects.
“Zimbabwe submitted projects in areas such as dams, roads and other infrastructure, there were also projects on agriculture, tourism and many other initiatives that are being discussed.
“It is the right time to look back and assess the projects and give them a new boost to implementation of the outcome of the FOCAC held in Beijing in 2018.”
Mr Zhao said Zimbabwe had better conditions to attract investors compared to other countries in the region.
“In the future, there are several other areas from which Zimbabwe can benefit from Chinese investors,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has abundant resources in areas like agriculture. Tourism will also benefit from FOCAC, while some Chinese investors are planning to build a hotel in this country.”
It is important that with other countries like the United States imposing unfair trade rules against China, developing countries like Zimbabwe should take advantage to lure the Asian economic giant to increase trade with them.
For instance, the Chinese government has set aside $10 billion that can be accessed by investors to specifically work on projects in Africa.
The most organised countries in terms of their conditions and how they view foreign direct investment are bound to benefit more from such a huge investment.
The FOCAC coordinators’ meeting was held to discuss progress on the eight points outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the forum’s meeting last year.
The eight points are that China was to launch an industrial promotion initiative, an infrastructure connectivity initiative, a trade facilitation initiative, a green development initiative, a capacity building initiative, a health care initiative, a people-people exchange initiative and a peace and security initiative.