Trade relations between China and Zimbabwe have grown by half a billion dollars between 2013 and 2014 according to ‘The Herald’.

Speaking at an event hosted by the University of Zimbabwe, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin emphasised China’s role as a strategic trading partner for the Sub-Saharan Republic. “In the first 11 months of 2014, our bilateral trade rose to $1.16 billion, which has exceeded that of the whole year of 2013. The successes in our economic co-operation derive from our close political ties. In recent years, China and Zimbabwe have enjoyed frequent high-level political exchanges. The most important one is the state visit to China by President Mugabe in August last year.”

With tobacco and cotton products contributing around 80% of the total exports from Zimbabwe to China, there has also been an increase in the export of raw materials and precious minerals.

China’s increased involvement as an importer has been widely cited as a key factor in the revival of Zimbabwe’s farming industry, which has endured a turbulent period since 2000 when President Robert Mugabe initiated his land reforms, which saw the eviction of over 4000 white commercial farmers.

Having signed nine major bilateral deals between President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart, China is supporting a variety of infrastructure projects including the expansion of the Kariba South Hydro power station, the Victoria Falls Airport, and the development of the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre.

China has also extended various financial considerations including extended grants and interest-free loans to the tune of over $100 million while China Exim Bank has also provided over $1 billion worth of concessionary and commercial loans to Zimbabwe in recent years.

China, which is the continents biggest trading partner, reached a macro trade relationship with Africa of over $210 billion in 2013, and has signed bilateral investment treaties with 32 out of the 54 African states.