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Zambia, China eye increased trade, long-term investments

Zambia, China eye increased trade, long-term investments
Chinese investment in southern African nation targeted to hit $30 billion by 2030

By James Kunda

LUSAKA, Zambia (AA) - The first ever China-Zambia trade and investment forum opened Wednesday in the Zambian capital Lusaka, with the two countries targeting increased bilateral trade and investments over the long term.

The opening ceremony was attended by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who tasked the Zambia Development Agency with ensuring that Chinese investment in Zambia reaches $30 billion by 2030 as he pondered his country migrating towards running a 24-hour economy.

"Chinese investment in Zambia currently stands at $9.4 billion across all sectors, and now we must begin talking about increasing this significantly," Hichilema said, "and that is why we also talked with President Xi Jinping about expanding into the pharmaceutical industry because obviously COVID-19 taught us a lot of lessons.”

The forum is being held under the theme "China-Zambia Trade and Investment Forum in the New Era: All-weather, All-Dimensional and High Quality Friendship," which was coined during a 45-minute phone call Hichilema held with Xi in June to discuss bilateral ties.

Hichilema also used the call to lobby Xi for China's support as the southern African nation pursued a $1.3 billion IMF bailout package and debt restructuring for its more than $17 billion external debt.

"I am happy that the IMF program was successfully accessed and so too significant progress has been made in the talks with creditors over debt restructuring, and for this, we are grateful to President Xi," added Hichilema, who also congratulated China on the commemoration of the Chinese National Day.

At the same occasion, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Du Xiao Hui announced that products imported from Zambia would enter China duty free as a way of promoting bilateral trade between the two countries.

Du said that at the country’s ruling Communist Party's forthcoming congress, Xi was expected to outline a plan for China’s next five years and Zambia would be a key conversation in the blueprint.

“I am certain that as President Xi outlines his development plan, the bilateral relationship between Zambia and China will not be left out, especially as we look to revive the TAZARA (Tanzania-Zambia Railway),” said Du.

China is one of Zambia's largest trading partners, being the main foreign consumer of the country's flagship export -- copper.

In 2021, the country's exports to China were estimated at $1.2 billion, while imports over the same period were estimated at $896 million.

On the sidelines of the forum, Du and Zambia's Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane signed an exchange letter for the duty-free treatment of Zambian products corresponding to 98% of tariff lines.

source: News Feed
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