Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
TRADE between Zimbabwe and China, one of the country’s largest trading partner shrunk 43 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.

Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $360 million during the first quarter, according to China’s Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office in Zimbabwe.

As trade remains in favour of Zimbabwe, exports declined by 51,4 percent to $274 million while imports from China totalled $85 million, an increase of 36,7 percent.

Zimbabwe mainly exports tobacco and minerals to China while the former imports industrial and agricultural inputs such as chemicals electronic goods and machinery.

Economic ties between Zimbabwe and China have been growing since Government adopted “Look East Policy” in light of hostilities from western countries which imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe over land reform programme.

On investments, Zimbabwe has been one of the major recipients of Chinese capital, with over $1,3 billion having been invested into the country between 2009 and 2013.

Last year, Zimbabwe and China signed several agreements that will see the world’s second largest economy providing capital for bankable projects in various sectors.

China has already provided loans to fund various projects in energy, water and aviation.

These include the $1,5 billion expansion of Kariba Power Station which is

being undertaken by Sino-Hydro, the $150 million expansion of the Victoria Falls airport and the rehabilitation of Harare Morton Jaffray water plant at a cost of $144 million.

The Chinese have also invested into private projects in sectors such as mining and telecommunications. The Government signed a concessional loan agreement with China Exim Bank worth $218,9 million for NetOne’s network expansion under the company’s Phase II Project.

In line with the Zim-Asset thrust towards empowering small-scale miners, the Government entered into a $100 million facility agreement with Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group of China for provision of small-scale mining equipment on credit.