Zimbabwe and China in Harare Friday signed an Economic and Technical Agreement that will see the two countries strengthen their trade relations.
Chinese Assistant Commerce Minister Fu Ziying signed on behalf of the Chinese government while Finance and Economic Development Minister Chris Kuruneri signed for the Zimbabwean government.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Kuruneri said Zimbabwe and China planned a joint project to improve tobacco production by the southern African country from 80,000 tons to 800,000 tons annually.
"We have the land and manpower and you (China) have the resources. It's not a one-way street. We expect to mutually benefit," Kuruneri said.
He also said Zimbabwe had minerals like gold and platinum but needed investors.
Fu said that the government of China would see the agreement as an expression of continued ties with Zimbabwe.
"We really hope for your country's prosperous development. We hope that our friendship can be strengthened," said Fu.
The Chinese delegation led by Fu arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday and winds up a three-day visit to Zimbabwe on Saturday with a visit to the joint-venture Sino-Zimbabwe cement plant in the Midlands city of Gweru.
China also has investment in Zimbabwe's steel production and ties are being fostered in mining and tourism.
Meanwhile, the Chinese trade delegation met President Robert Mugabe at State House and discussed Zimbabwe's intention to improve ties with the Asian economic powerhouse.
Kuruneri told journalists after the meeting that Zimbabwe wanted to expand areas of cooperation with China and improve the country's foreign currency position.
He said the two countries wanted to strengthen cooperation in the agricultural sector, particularly in tobacco production.
Fu described the meeting with President Mugabe as "good."
"It went on quite well. It's apparent that his Excellency has been very good," Fu said.
According to the finance ministry, China has so far committed more that US$200 million to projects in Zimbabwe, according to the finance ministry.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2004)