Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zimbabwe and China Sign Economic Agreement

Zisco gets debt relief

By Paidamoyo Chipunza
Zimbabwe Herald

CHINA will reschedule Ziscosteel’s US$54,684 million debt to 2013, as Beijing and Harare yesterday signed agreements that will see the former investing in improving Harare’s water supply among other projects.

The deals signed yesterday also pave the way for greater Chinese investment in fertilizer and pharmaceutical drugs production in Zimbabwe, as ties between the two countries continue to strengthen.

The officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding for financing projects between Zimbabwe and China.

Government has already paid US$5 million as a sign of its commitment to paying the Ziscosteel debt that dates back to 2007.

Zisco is one of the companies on the West’s illegal sanctions list, a development that has constrained its operations.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance, representatives from China’s Eximbank and Sinosure — a Chinese State enterprise — signed the deals in Harare yesterday.

The debt rescheduling places Zimbabwe in a better position to bargain for further financing of 10 projects of national priority.

Sinosure will provide insurance cover for loans for the projects that will be supported by Eximbank.

The first phase of the programme will see Eximbank financing fertilizer supply, medicines and water chemicals for the City of Harare.

The team paid a courtesy call on Acting President Joice Mujuru after the deals were sealed.

Acting President Mujuru said she was pleased that discussions between the bank and Government had yielded positive results.

"Your visit is most welcome because of the results brought about by this meeting. Zimbabwe is happy with the readiness by your Government to appreciate the difficulties we have been encountering, particularly in the past 10 years.

"I am glad that you have agreed to reschedule the debt. This will enable us to solve some of the problems that we have been facing regarding the loan repayment," she said. The Acting President added: "I am glad with the first three projects. These are critical areas in planning the economic turnaround programme."

She said she was excited that China had decided to pick water supply as one of the first three projects.

"As Government, we will continue to urge our officials to speed up the documentation to enable the projects to start."

The head of the Chinese delegation, Sinosure executive vice president Mr Zhang Weidong, said the agreements were a result of a lot of hard work.

"Through hard work from colleagues in Zimbabwe, especially from the Finance Ministry, we have finally borne positive results. The debt arrangement and initiation of phase one projects have opened a broader way of co-operation in the future," Mr Zhang said.

China has already assisted in the refurbishment of Blast Furnace Number Four at Ziscosteel.

No comments: