Chinese Ambassador to Zambia LI JIE said the increasing interest expressed by international investors in the Zambian economy reflects the enabling nature of the country’s business environment. Ambassador JIE reported that in the first half of the year [January to June], USD 260 million came into Zambia from China as direct investment in various sectors of the economy.
Further, Ambassador JIE projected that trade between Zambia and the world’s second largest economy, China, will continue to increase in the medium to long-term. He also confirmed that in 2018, bilateral trade was in excess of USD 5 billion of which over USD 4 billion were Zambia’s exports to China and USD 800 million represented imports from Asia’s heavyweight economy. After Kenya, Zambia is China’s second largest trade partner in Africa.
Mr. JIE expressed his country’s pleasure in contributing to the implementation of various developmental projects in Zambia. He explained that infrastructure built through the partnership of the two friendly nations will contribute to attainment of goals set in the Seventh National Development Plan and consequently to Zambia’s economic growth.
Mr. JIE took the opportunity to reaffirm his country’s readiness to help revitalize the TAZARA Railways, a joint venture between Tanzania and Zambia, and proclaimed that, “China will be glad like to see TAZARA play a significant role in Zambia’s new development thrust.”
Ambassador JIE explained further that to operationalize the TAZARA revitalization plan, China was ready to offer technical support to the company and to aid the railway company’s return to its former glory. At its peak in the 70’s, TAZARA moved in excess of five-million tons of cargo per annum but had declined to the current three-hundred-thousand tons per annum.
Mr. JIE also disclosed that China is exploring new development cooperation models and is willing to support Zambia in the priority economic sectors outlined in the Seventh National Development Plan such as agriculture, energy and tourism.
Responding to Mr. Jie’s brief, Dr. Ng’andu stated that the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation [FOCAC] offers opportunities for Zambia to benefit in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy, tourism and provincial development; and will be explored.
The Minister also indicated that climate change is impacting gravely on Zambia and hence the gradual movement of the agriculture belt to the northerly regions of the country where rain and water bodies are in abundance, adding that, those natural endowments in the north need to be harnessed systematically for both hydro and renewable energy ventures.