April 23, 2007

China now biggest investor in Zimbabwe

China is now the biggest investor in Zimbabwe with at least 35 companies operating in the Southern African country and more investors eyeing opportunities there, according to a top ruling party official. "It is heartening to know that China is now the largest investor in Zimbabwe and her investment now stands at over 600 million US dollars," Parliament speaker John Nkomo was quoted in the Herald newspaper. "Currently more than 35 Chinese companies grace our economic landscape and there have been more exploratory visits to Zimbabwe by Chinese companies seeking investment opportunities," Nkomo said.
Zimbabwe and China have relations dating back to Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle when Beijing provided arms and training to the Black Nationalist movement fighting the white minority government of Ian Smith. The burgeoning ties have seen an exchange of visits by officials from Harare and Beijing in recent years.
In the latest visit Jia Qinglin, chairperson of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and other Chinese officials handed over a $58-million financing facility to be used to purchase farming equipment, implements and tools in Zimbabwe. Under the deal, China's CAMC Engineering will supply various agricultural equipment including 424 tractors, 65 dumper trucks, 40 heavy-duty harrows and eight bulldozers. In return for the help with its struggling agriculture sector, Zimbabwe will deliver 110.000 tonnes of tobacco to China over two years. The two countries also signed three separate agreements related to finance, agriculture and education. The friendship between Harare and Beijing was rekindled when Mugabe, shunned by former friends in the West over the political crisis in his country, adopted a "Look East" policy forging stronger ties with countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. Chinese businesses have been condemned for flooding the local market with low-quality goods and pushing local manufacturers out of business. (The Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

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