Belt and Road Initiative Critical for Zim – ED

Beijing — The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will contribute to genuine, all-encompassing globalisation and help Zimbabwe in particular to achieve its goal for middle-income status by 2030, President Mnangagwa has said.

The President said this in the Chinese capital, Beijing, where he is attending the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC).

The BRI is an ambitious effort to improve regional co-operation and connectivity on a trans-continental scale. It aims to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links between China and some 65 other countries that account collectively for over 30 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 62 percent of world population and 75 percent of known global energy reserves.

President Mnangagwa said the BRI is a significant enhancement of the old Silk Road — an ancient trade route that linked China with a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

“In the past there was the Silk Road, and that to a greater extent did not embrace the entire continent. Zimbabwe was only lucky to the extent that 800 to 1 000 years ago there was trade between the Munhumutapa Kingdom and China when we imported porcelain and silk from here and in turn you got our ivory.

“But today the Road and Belt Initiative has taken everybody on board so that our economies can talk to each other, so that our economies can help each other modernise and mechanise. We are getting connected and benefiting from each other.

“If you look at the current FOCAC meeting, there are 10 issues that we are going to deal with and these issues are really primary issues that show developing countries like Zimbabwe.

“The issue of transportation, the issue of infrastructure development in our countries . . . we believe that with this relationship under FOCAC where the rest of Africa is making conversations with China, and China helping Zimbabwe and Africa to go up. And when that happens it creates the integration of marketing in China and Africa so we are happy that we are part of this global vision,” he said.

Official data from China’s Ministry of Commerce shows that FOCAC has achieved fruitful results and has become a significant mark of China-Africa co-operation. China-Africa trade volume amounted to $170 billion last year, up from just over $10 billion in 2000.

The Government has set itself a target of middle-income status by 2030 and targets Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $65 billion by 2030.

Typically, countries with per capita gross national incomes between $996 and $12 195 fall under this category.

Added the President: “We are happy that this is a country that has never colonised anybody, who today is giving us a helping hand to grow. As a matter of fact, China is helping us to become a middle-income country. As a result of that helping hand we leapfrog and go into a modern economy. Left alone it will take us more years to develop with our domestic investment, but given the technology, given the assistance, the financial know-how we leapfrog and become an important cog in the global economy.”

Co-operation under the BRI, which certainly goes beyond infrastructure, is expected to be a major topic of the ongoing FOCAC summit.

China has indicated that it is willing to work with Africa to dovetail its Belt and Road Initiative with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, as well as the development strategies of individual African countries to explore new opportunities and inject new impetus for Africa’s development.

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