Zimbabwe-China Trade Set to Break New Records in 2024

How the two countries are strengthening their economic cooperation under the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation framework

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe and China are on course to further deepen their economic ties this year, building on the impressive growth of trade and investment in 2023. According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), bilateral trade between the two countries reached a new record of over US$2.5 billion last year, a 39.4 percent increase from 2022. Zimbabwe also achieved a US$29 million trade surplus with China, its third-largest export destination and second-largest source market.

The strong performance of Zimbabwe-China trade reflects the growing relations between the two countries under the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation framework, which was established in 2018. The partnership covers various sectors of the economy, such as mining, manufacturing, services, construction, transport, energy, agriculture, and tourism. China is Zimbabwe’s biggest source of foreign direct investment (FDI), with over 427 Chinese companies licensed to operate in the country as of last year, according to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA).

Some of the major Chinese investments in Zimbabwe include the Tshingshan Group, which is building Africa’s largest steel plant in Manhize, the Sinomine Resource Group, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, and Chengxin Lithium Group, which is developing lithium mines and projects worth a combined US$678 million, and the Eagle Canyon group, which is involved in renewable energy projects, such as the proposed US$1 billion floating solar plant on Kariba Dam.

Zimbabwe-China trade and investment also benefit from the participation of both countries in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global development strategy launched by China in 2013 to enhance connectivity and cooperation across continents. Under the BRI, Zimbabwe and China have implemented several infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of airports, power, and telecommunications, which create jobs and contribute to the economy in both upstream and downstream activities.

Zimbabwe-China economic cooperation is not only driven by the governments but also by the private sector and civil society. Last year, several platforms were hosted by Chinese companies and organizations to increase awareness and opportunities for Zimbabwean businesses and individuals, such as the Job Fair, the Stanbic China Day, and the China-Zimbabwe Friendship Association. On the other hand, Zimbabwean companies and products also showcased their potential and quality at various events in China, such as the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, where Zimbabwe had a pavilion featuring leather, processed foods, arts and crafts, telecommunications, mining, energy and tourism.

As the two countries enter the new year, there is optimism that trade and investment will continue to grow and diversify, especially in new areas such as the digital economy, transport and logistics, renewable energies, and health. These sectors require more innovative thinking and collaboration from both sides, as well as the involvement of more players, especially younger and futuristic investors. There is also a need to improve the financial services and the regulatory environment to facilitate the flow of business between the two countries.

Zimbabwe and China have proven to be “all-weather friends” who share a long history of solidarity and mutual support. Their economic cooperation is not only beneficial to their development but also to regional and global peace and prosperity. As the world faces unprecedented challenges and uncertainties, Zimbabwe and China can rely on each other as reliable partners and work together for a better future.

Source: Zimbabwe Situation


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