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China welcomes more exports from Zimbabwe
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Zimbabwean businesses are welcome to tap the Chinese economy through exporting more products to that country, participants to a Sino-Zimbabwean business forum have been told.

At the forum on bilateral trade and cooperation Friday, a group of visiting Chinese entrepreneurs presented various business opportunities for their Zimbabwean counterparts in different sectors.

Some 20 Chinese entrepreneurs from both the state-run and private companies who were in Zimbabwe for a four-day visit left Harare Sunday after signing a number of contracts with local businesses worth more than 50 million U.S. dollars.

They came to Zimbabwe to buy local products in agriculture, mining and manufacture, according to Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, who headed an official delegation and businesspeople to visit Zimbabwe.

Gao said in an interview with local media that allowing products from African countries to penetrate the Chinese market was one of the eight measures agreed at the China-Africa summit held in Beijing in 2006.

"One of the eight measures agreed at the Beijing Summit of China-Africa Forum on Cooperation in November 2006 was the zero- tariff treatment to least developed countries," he said.

In fact, China has increased from 100 plus to more than 400 the products under zero tariff treatment, he said.

Gao said China had established the Import and Export Commodity Fair to allow African countries to participate and exhibit their products in China. He said in addition, China also held many other fairs where Zimbabwean enterprises could exhibit their products.

Zimbabwean enterprises interested in participating in these fairs could register through the Chinese Embassy or through the website, he said.

In June this year, the Ministry of Commerce will hold a Chinese product fair in Harare. It is an opportunity for Zimbabwean businesses to understand more about Chinese products and for Chinese business people to understand Zimbabwean products, he said.

Gao said his visit to Zimbabwe with a large delegation of business people was a testimony of the desire his country had to strengthen cooperation between enterprises from the two countries.

He said in addition to exploring the potential for cooperation, business people in his delegation would purchase products worth 50 million dollars from Zimbabwe.

On economic challenges that Zimbabwe was experiencing, Gao said China would assist the country to develop its industry and mining sectors.

He said the two governments had reached consensus to assist Zimbabwean enterprises increase production of goods and be able to export and earn much needed foreign currency.

He said great potential existed for cooperation between enterprises from the two countries in such areas as mining, agriculture and education.

It was important for the two governments to maintain and strengthen bilateral relations for cooperation between enterprises to thrive.

"We need central and local government support to step up cooperation to cover many areas," he said, adding the Chinese government always encouraged competitive and reputable companies to invest in Zimbabwe.

Besides encouraging enterprises to invest in Zimbabwe, China also provided credit loans to the companies. Zimbabwe Friday signed two agreements with China worth 44.5 million dollars aimed at enhancing trade and investment ties between the two countries.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by President Robert Mugabe and other senior government officials at State House.

(Xinhua News Agency February 25, 2008)

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