CHINESE Ambassador to Zambia Li Jie says bilateral trade volume between China and Zambia has increased from US$2.36 billion in 2017 to US $5.07 billion in 2018.
Ambassador Li also says China’s focus in its economic cooperation with Zambia was now skewed towards promoting direct private sector investments that would not require any sovereign guarantees from the Zambian government.
He said Zambia had a trade surplus with China which had seen the figure grow significantly from $1.25 billion in 2015 to $3.13 billion in 2018.
The Ambassador attributed the situation to the strength of the two country’s economic partnership.
He made the remarks when he paid a courtesy call on finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe at her office in Lusaka last week on Wednesday.
“Given that Zambia has over the last few years been faced with an increasing trade deficit and diminishing foreign exchange reserves, current trade relations with China are of vital importance especially that the country aims to accelerate its push for exports to the large Chinese market,” Ambassador Li said.
The Chinese envoy took the opportunity to urge the Zambian government to continue protecting and growing the country’s world acclaimed reputation as an “economically stable and politically democratic nation whose citizens cherish peace.”
He also took the opportunity to invite Mwanakatwe to the first ever China-Africa Trade Expo to held in Changsha, China, later this year.
And Mwanakatwe applauded the assurance by Ambassador Li that among China’s future dimensions of cooperation with Zambia would be the focus on non-sovereign guaranteed private sector investments.
The minister indicated that the approach to promote direct investments would help build confidence in Zambia’s medium term debt strategy on the local and international market.
Mwanakatwe added that through diversification and enhanced value chain promotion programmes, Zambia would take advantage of the warm relationship it had with China to ship more non-traditional exports to the world’s second largest economy and the world’s largest sovereign market.
Meanwhile, Mwanakatwe briefed Ambassador Li that the Ministry of Finance was on course for a well-structured Article 4 consultation process with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be held towards the end of the current fiscal quarter.
She reiterated the commitment of the Zambian government to engage both local and foreign investors on a frequent basis in order to improve information exchange on matters of mutual business and investment interest.