Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
ZIMBABWE and China yesterday signed three cooperation agreements focusing on the economy and social services, as the two all-weather friends take their relations to another level. The agreements were signed in Harare after marathon closed discussions between the Zimbabwe delegation headed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, and the Chinese economic and trade delegation led by the Vice Minister of Commerce Mr Qian Keming.
In an interview with The Herald after the signing ceremony, Minister Moyo said; “What was being signed here were basically three agreements. The first one, as you are aware, our cooperation between China and Zimbabwe is guided within eight principles and all eight initiatives, and these initiatives are the ones which guide the framework of cooperation, whether it is industrial initiative or it is technological initiative or it’s people-to-people initiative, (or) it is financial initiative.
“This was the implementation of those eight initiatives, which was the basis upon our discussion today, and that was the first agreement which we signed.”
The second agreement relates to the extension of Phase Two of Mahusekwa Hospital while the third agreement is a donation by the Chinese government of US$800 000 towards Cyclone Idai.
Vice Minister Qian said China would pro-actively support Zimbabwe in the Cyclone Idai aftermath rehabilitation make detailed plans under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) framework.
Minister Moyo said the relations between Zimbabwe and China “are getting to another level” as they are now focusing on economic reforms being undertaken by Harare.
“We are saying that we want to target specific areas which have got a feel and a touch, which are visible to the people and which do not bring difficulties on the debt management of the country.
“Therefore, we are going to be expanding onto all those areas and thus, we are going to be looking at the financial cooperation so that we can stabilise the financial sector.
“Secondly, we have got to look at the industrial cooperation so that we can look at import substitution and invest, and bring Chinese companies which can establish and retool industries and value add products, which can then be exported, either under industrial parks or under the Special Economic Zones,” said Minister Moyo.
He said Zimbabwe and China are also looking at trade, particularly at this time when trade relations between China and the United States of America are frosty.
Minister Moyo said while the strained relations between the two are unfortunate, Harare believes it can fill that vacuum and increase trade volumes with China.
He said exports in agriculture and other products, emanating from the Special Economic Zones, would be critical in boosting trade between Harare and Beijing.
Zimbabwe and China also spoke about developmental cooperation, focusing on things like drilling of boreholes and support for Cyclone Idai.
Critically, issues giving a symbiotic relationship between China and Zimbabwe such as direct air traffic between the two, came under discussion.
With Air Zimbabwe expecting to take delivery of its two Boeing 777-200ERs in the next few weeks, the company is planning long haul routes to London and Beijing.
Minister Moyo said they also appreciated that China has become the greatest investor so far in the country and is currently implementing “meaningful projects” such as the US$1,5 billion Hwange Thermal power Station expansion project.
The expansion project will see units 7 and 8 being constructed, and will add 600MW of electricity into the national grid.
The project is set to be completed in 42 months.
Minister Moyo said he agreed with Deputy Minister Qian that they “should find ways of quickening” the Hwange 7 and 8 project so that Zimbabwe “can realise the benefit of our cooperation”.