INTERNATIONAL - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is in China this week for a five-day state visit which is aimed at boosting the Southern African country's troubled economy.

Leading up to the scheduled trip, Mnangagwa reportedly outlined his economic agenda in an interview with China's state-run news outlet Xinhua. "The issue is not only about attracting capital into Zimbabwe. It's an issue of leapfrogging after 18 years of isolation so that we catch up with the rest of the developing countries," Mnangagwa has been quoted as saying.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday told President Mnangagwa, during the African leader’s first state visit to China since seizing power, that both countries should work towards a new chapter in ties.

The relationship between the two countries goes as far back to 1979 when China supplied Mugabe's guerrilla fighters with weapons and training against British in tier fight for independence in the Rodiesian war. Mnangagwa subsequently also visited China in the 1960's for military training.

Since been sworn in as Zimbabwe's President, Mnangagwa has vowed to rebuild his country's damaged economy and has pledged to revive Zimbabwe's economy, which has struggled with corruption and hyperinflation, as well as the country's standing with the international community.

Martin Plaut, senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, told CNBC Tuesday that Mnangagwa could leave China with assurances of investment as well as backing for a "huge number of projects to be undertaken on the infrastructure side.

Areas for economic collaboration between Zimbabwe and China include infrastructure, mining and transport. Zimbabwe is known for gold and diamond exports as well as tobacco, for which China was its top export market in 2016.

“I’m willing to work with Mr President to jointly map out our future cooperation and write a new chapter in China-Zimbabwe relations for the benefit of our two peoples,” Xi said, during a meeting in Beijing, Reuters reports.

China has growing interest in investing in Africa’s natural resources and has poured more than $100 billion into roads, railways, mines, powerlines and factories on the continent over the last decade.

Trade between China and African countries reached $85.3 billion in the first half of 2017, according to Chinese state media.


- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE