|Zimbabwe: 170 Chinese Investors for ZITF|
By Golden Sibanda, 20 April 2012
A 170-member delegation of Chinese businesspeople will be visiting Zimbabwe next week to explore trade and investment opportunities and attend the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo. Secretary for Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Dr Desire Sibanda said apart from participating at the ZITF, the delegation would also attend the Zimbabwe-China Investment Conference to be held on April 26.
The trade fair, an annual event on the local corporate calendar, runs from April 23 to April 27. It draws exhibitors from across the globe.
Government seeks to optimise benefits from the Look East Policy by promoting investment into priority areas of the Medium Term Plan, Government's new five-year economic blueprint.
Efforts to improve trade and investment between China and Zimbabwe come on the back of a recent visit by Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, which culminated in the signing of a number of deals to fund multimillion- dollar projects in Zimbabwe.
Dr Sibanda said the visit by the Chinese business delegation provides a platform for Government to explain concerns previously raised and clarify the indigenisation and empowerment programme.
He said addressing a number of issues raised by the Chinese would enable Government to ensure full implementation of the Look East Policy.
"We had a meeting on Tuesday (with the lead team). A total of 170 are coming for the trade fair and the Zimbabwe-China investment seminar. We are targeting priority areas of the MTP," he said.
The Chinese are seeking clarification on the banning of raw chrome exports and want detailed information on mining and indigenisation.
They also seek explanation on why the country does not have Export Processing Zones, as was the case elsewhere in Africa, notably Zambia.
Zimbabwe is targeting Asian countries, especially the BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a new clique of emerging economies -- set to drive global economic growth.
China holds huge potential as a source of foreign direct investment. Its economy grew by double digits for three successive decades, overtaking Japan to become the world's second biggest economy.
It anchored global economic growth after the financial crisis that hit the United States and Europe, the natural disaster that struck Japan and political instabilities that stunted growth in North Africa.
Dr Sibanda said China had contributed significantly to FDI inflows into Zimbabwe at a time when Western investment had fallen due to political differences and the EU's economic challenges.
But Chinese FDI inflows into Zimbabwe remain low, compared with Zambia, despite the country having a policy to attract oriental investment.
The Medium Term Plan (2011-2015) identifies FDI, including FDI from China, as a critical enabler to achieve economic growth.
It targets an investment to Gross Domestic Product ratio of 25 percent by 2015 and this would be a catalyst for growth, employment creation and increased industrial capacity utilisation after a decade of recession.
Trade with China surpassed the US$560 million realised in 2010 and is now estimated at US$810 million.
But this is low compared with the US$15,5 billion trade volume with Southern Africa over the same period.
China's investment into Southern Africa reached US$10 billion last year and is set to rise as the Asian economic powerhouse seeks more raw materials for its growing industry.