by Elias Shilangwa
LUSAKA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Zambia and China will hold the first-ever trade and investment forum aimed at unlocking the trade and investment potential between the two countries, the two sides said Wednesday.
The Trade and Investment Forum will be held in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, from Sept. 28-29, under the theme "China-Zambia investment in the new era, all-weather, all-diversion, and quality friendship."
The forum, which will be co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Zambia and the Zambian Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, has been co-sponsored by Zambia's investment agency, the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co., Ltd and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and has so far attracted nearly 200 Chinese enterprises to participate.
Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Du Xiaohui told journalists during a press briefing to announce the holding of the forum that 10 Chinese Fortune 500 enterprises have been invited to participate in the forum.
The forum will be characterized by a high-level opening ceremony, five parallel forum sessions, panel discussions, business-to-government meetings, business-to-business meetings as well as exhibitions by enterprises, said Du, noting that the five parallel forums will be held under different themes and will provide perfect platforms for discussing China-Zambia practical cooperation.
The two sides will also sign three memoranda of understanding for great investment cooperation, digital economy investment, as well as investment and economic working group treatment.
According to him, the phone conservation between the leaders of the two countries early this year provided political preparation and policy guidelines for the forum.
"The core essence of the forum is to implement the outcome of the two presidents' phone conversation and advance China-Zambia relations standing through practical economic cooperation," he said.
He said the embassy decided to hold the forum in order to attract more Chinese investment into Zambia and spur economic growth which was vital for development.
The forum will help advertise Zambia's good investment policies, said Du, while disclosing that the embassy intends to publish a book on the comprehensive guide to investment in Zambia and another one profiling Chinese enterprises operating in the southern African nation.
The Chinese envoy said that China will remain Zambia's important investment and trade partner, with 600 Chinese enterprises currently operating in Zambia with a total investment of 3 billion U.S. dollars which has created 50,000 jobs.
He said the bilateral trade in the first half of this year totaled 3.76 billion dollars, a nearly 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year, while Zambia has enjoyed a trade surplus of 2.92 billion dollars.
Elias Mubanga, Zambia's acting Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, thanked the Chinese embassy and other organizers for ensuring that the holding of the forum comes to fruition.
He said the first-ever forum will bring together corporate institutions, financial institutions and innovators to discuss and explore potential investment opportunities which were in line with the Zambian government's vision. The theme of the forum was in line with the government's focus on ensuring sustainable development through applying modern methods of production.
The minister also said the holding of the forum would be a mark of the strong bond that has existed between the two countries over the years, adding that the forum provides an opportunity and serves as a milestone in Zambia's economic relations with China.
Zambia considers China as a strategic investment partner that has invested in various sectors of the economy, he said. He mentioned the establishment of the first economic zone in Zambia by China, which was also the first in Africa, as an affirmation of the importance that China attaches to its relationship with Zambia.