CHINA now ranks as Zimbabwe's third biggest trade partner after South Africa and the European Union with trade volumes in the first 10 months of this year pegged at US$750 million. This is clear testimony that the Look East Policy adopted by the then Zanu-PF Government is bearing fruit.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin told the media in Harare yesterday that trade between Zimbabwe and China was on a steady rise.
"Recent years have seen the fast growth of bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe. China has become the third largest trade partner of Zimbabwe after South Africa and the European Union. From 2009 to 2011, our annual bilateral trade volume is US$297 million, US$560 million and US$810 million respectively," he said.
Mr Lin said the future looked brighter.
"In the first 10 months of this year, trade volume reached US$750 million. The Zimbabwean side enjoys a trade surplus of US$112 million with an export of US$431 million and import of US$319 million. The statistics could be more optimistic for the whole year," he said.
The ambassador noted that Zimbabwean tobacco enjoys high reputation in the global market and China has been the major buyer of the golden leaf in recent years.
Mr Lin pledged China's commitment to support Zimbabwe's social and economic development.
"The expansion of Victoria Falls Airport has started. We are pushing forward the building of a middle primary school and two mini-hydro power stations under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation," he said.
Mr Lin described bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and China as "typical of South-South co-operation" saying it was mutually beneficial.
"Zimbabwe is endowed with well-educated human resources, relatively sound infrastructure, huge potential in agriculture, mining and tourism development. China has accumulated comparative advantages in modern technologies, management and capital in the more than 30 years of development since reform and opening up," he said.
Mr Lin expressed commitment in furthering the already positive economic relations between Zimbabwe and China.
He singled out mining, agriculture and infrastructure development as some of the areas the Chinese are interested in investing.
Chinese investors are active in Zimbabwe following adoption of the Look East Policy.
The Chinese have invested in diamonds, chrome and various other sectors of the economy.
"I think Chinese investors will have a lot of interest in the mining sector. The agriculture sector has great potential as well with tobacco becoming an important factor in our co-operation," Mr Lin said.
He called for the removal of illegal Western sanctions on Zimbabwe.