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TRADE between Zimbabwe and China doubled to US$800 million in the last two years as ties between the two countries continue to strengthen, outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Xin Shunkang said on Thursday.

Speaking at a public lecture organized by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre, Xin said his tenure of nearly three years in Zimbabwe saw the two countries consolidating their economic, political and social ties.

"Bilateral trade has increased from US$400 million to US$800 million during my tenure," he said while presenting a paper on "Outlook of China's economy and Sino- Zimbabwe relations".

Ambassador Xin leaves Zimbabwe this month to take up his new post in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Tobacco is one of the major trade commodities between the two countries, with China standing as the single largest buyer of the golden leaf.

The Chinese envoy noted that China had provided support through donations to various initiatives in Zimbabwe worth more than US$25 million since 2009.

Political relations, he said, were further cemented through high-level visits by leaders from both countries.
Zimbabwe has pursued a so-called ‘Look East” after relations with the West cooled over the last decade.

The United States and Britain pushed the imposition of sanctions against the country over allegations of human rights abuses and suspected electoral fraud.

But President Robert Mugabe says the sanctions, which he blames for the country’s economic problems, were meant to punish Zimbabwe for its land reforms and economic empowerment policies.

Chinese involvement in the local economy has become so dominant that officials suggested the country adopts the Yuan as its main currency and drop the US dollar which, along with the Botswana Pula and the South African Rand, has kept the country afloat following the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar.

Chinese firms also dominated the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.


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