Fatima Bulla in Beijing, China
ZIMBABWE is working closely with China to support local exporting companies as part of measures to boost its foreign currency earnings, which will in turn stabilise the economy, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Busi Moyo has said.
Dr Moyo is head of a delegation which was attending the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) which ended here yesterday.
The annual ministerial meeting was held ahead of the 2018 Beijing Focac Summit which officially opens today.
Heads of state from 53 African countries with diplomatic ties with China are expected to attend the summit.
Responding to insinuations that Harare was seeking a $2 billion bailout from the Asian economic giant, Minister Moyo said Government was exploring benefits within the framework of Focac in whatever financial form as part of measures to turn around the economy.
“We are looking for economic co-operation to benefit within the framework of the China-Africa Focac platform. Therefore, whether it’s going to be $2 billion, (or) whatever figure, we would have benefited,” he said.
“The whole concept and strategy for the Zimbabwean Government is to expand economic activity in Zimbabwe, develop export companies and markets for those exporting companies so that we generate more foreign currency,” he said.
“As we generate more foreign currency, we are introducing stabilisation measures which will ensure that we are able to repay the loans or any forms of payment obligations which we are required to,” Dr Moyo added.
Harare and Beijing have upgraded their relationship from all-weather friends status to a comprehensive and strategic partnership.
Dr Moyo said this meant relations between the two had reached a level of corporate and financial trust that made Harare and Beijing close partners in development, economic cooperation and multilateral affairs.
At the 2015 Johannesburg Summit Chinese President Xi Jinping made a $60 billion pledge in loans to African countries.
Through this pledge, Zimbabwe realised the expansion of the Kariba South Power Station and the Victoria Falls Airport which have been completed.
The $1,5 billion expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station is underway.
Expectations are high between China and Africa that the 2019-2021 Focac Beijing Action Plan will cement the cooperation of the two.
Yesterday’s ministerial meeting reviewed the implementation of follow-up actions on the Johannesburg 2015 summit. In addition, ministers reviewed and adopted the Beijing Declaration themed “China and Africa: Towards an even stronger community with a shared future”.
Dr Moyo said Harare was expecting a new 2019-2021 roadmap and commitment from what China would place at the disposal of Africa.
He singled out the energy sector as a key area Zimbabwe needed to run efficiently to accelerate national development.
“We are building power stations in Zimbabwe, which is the major, key fundamental issue of the infrastructure which is required. Because without energy, you cannot move any form of development in a country. That is why we think that the key enablers, which are the infrastructure, are the fundamentals. They are the most important and very expensive issues required.
“We have benefited to an extent in the agricultural sector. We have also benefited in the infrastructure sector like the energy sector. We have also benefited in the social, health and education sectors. And we are looking forward to benefit from the Focac and the bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and China as we move forward with the new Government,” he added.
The ministerial meeting is a precursor to the Focac summit which is conducted after every three years.
Yesterday the ministers adopted a declaration between Africa and China to undertake the Belt and Road Initiative in developing communication corridors, blue ocean economy and telecommunication and movement of trade.
The ministers also discussed the 2018 Beijing Action plan which will be adopted at the summit. The action plan focuses on issues of political, economic, cultural, media and international cooperation among a host of others between China and Africa.