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BILATERAL trade between Zimbabwe and China surged 20 percent to US$533 million US dollars in the first five months of 2012, compared to the same period last year, an official said on Thursday.

Speaking during the 63rd independence anniversary of China, Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin said trade between the two countries was expected to hit US$1 billion dollars by the end of this year.

"The year 2012 witnessed a rapid development of mutually beneficial economic cooperation between China and Zimbabwe. The bilateral trade volume was $533 million in the first five months of 2012, an increase of 20 percent from the same period last year and is expected to reach 1 billion dollars by the end of 2012," he said.

China has emerged Zimbabwe's closes international allies in the last decade when the country was slapped with European Union and United States sanctions. Relations between the two countries deepened further after Zimbabwe adopted the Look East Policy in 2003.

China has become a major source of imports as the Zimbabwean economy recovers from years of contraction, with the country exporting mainly tobacco to the Asian giant.

"More and more Chinese companies are involved in Zimbabwe's economic development," Lin added.

Companies operating in the country include Anjin, a joint diamond mining venture between the Chinese and the Zimbabwe government as well as Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC) which has been involved in two major construction projects in the country.

AFECC constructed the multi-million dollar Zimbabwe Defence College launched two weeks ago and is currently constructing a hotel and shopping mall worth over 200 million dollars in Harare.

Lin said the two countries were also cooperating in other sectors such as education and culture.

"China and Zimbabwe enjoy a profound traditional friendship," said Lin, who came to Zimbabwe two months ago, adding that there were prospects to further solidify relations.

Meanwhile, Lin said in the past 63 years since its founding, China has registered unprecedented transformation to become the second most powerful nation in the world.

"Despite all the achievements, we are clear headed that China is still a developing country with a large population yet a weak economic base," he said.


He said the world most populous nation continued to make strides to balance development between its urban and rural areas as well as uplift the lives of the over 128 million still living under the poverty line.

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