Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said Zimbabwe is prepared to work with China, just like it will work with any other country in the world as it rebuilds its economy.
Speaking to Xinhua in an interview after opening the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Forum ahead of the full heads of state summit at the weekend, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe would treat all economic cooperating partners as the same.
"China or America or whichever country can work with Zimbabwe. We are prepared to work with any country within the global economy. There will be no preferential treatment," he said.
Opening the business forum, Tsvangirai said while he appreciated the establishment of the African Trade Insurance scheme by COMESA to hedge businesses against political risk, it also represented a sad scenario of conflict.
"Of interest may be the African Trade Insurance scheme against political risk. This scheme hedges business against political instability. While this is good for business, it is an indictment as a statement to African leaders to bring to an end political bickering, unnecessary and unavoidable conflict."
He referred to the Zimbabwe experience where over the last decade there has been political instability, which led to a decline in the economy.
"This brings me to the reality of the Zimbabwean situation that in the past 10 years, the country declined from being a manufacturer to being a consumer of finished products," said he.
This decay, in the second biggest economy in the Southern African region, with its obvious downstream effects, will set the region back in the industrial and manufacturing value chain. The country would right now be talking about processing and not resuscitation of basic backbone infrastructure with is way down inthe value chain.
Tsvangirai said the business sector should help governments to deal with issues of poverty, low income levels for the majority of the people and inadequate infrastructure like inaccessible roads, poor communication systems and energy and power shortfalls.
"All these setbacks cannot be addressed by governments alone. Neither can they be addressed by the private sector on its own.
"In this regard, the business sector is called upon to exercise their entrepreneurial class by taking advantage of the various incentives and enabling policy frameworks that COMESA has put in place in order to overturn the challenges into bankable opportunities for the benefit of all."
COMESA is the largest of the eight regional economic communities working under the leadership of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
Its market integration strategy is based on trade and investment and members strive to develop better integrated economies where business thrives as a result of standardized customs procedures, reduced tariffs, encouraged investments and improved infrastructure, among others.
Zimbabwe is ready to host the 13th COMESA Heads of State and Government Summit, which begins on Thursday in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The summit runs until June 8 with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe taking over the chairmanship of the 19-member body for the next 12 months.
The COMESA Customs Union will be launched during the summit which will see member countries adopting a common external tariff.
COMESA has a population of more than 395 million people with a Gross Domestic Product of 215 billion U.S. dollars.
The 13th COMESA summit roars into life this week in the resort town of Victoria Falls under the theme "Consolidating regional integration through value addition, trade and food security".
(Xinhua News Agency June 5, 2009)