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Zambia-China trade grows to $6 billion

By STUART LISULO

Trade volumes between Zambia and China increased to a cumulative total of US $6.73 billion in 2022, resulting in an over 30 per cent increment from 2021, according to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

Zambian importers now have access to more than 35,000 reliable suppliers in China through the ICBC.

Speaking during the recent China Day Economic Forum, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Africa Representative Office, Liu Haonan, said that trade volumes between Zambia and China had increased year-on-year by 30.2 per cent.

The Standard Bank Group and the ICBC entered into a strategic partnership 15 years ago on the understanding and acknowledgement of the importance of China as a global economic player and in particular, Africa.

The partnership between ICBC, the world’s biggest bank, and Standard Bank, Africa’s biggest bank, enabled the provision of China-Africa financial services for Standard Bank clients.

Stanbic Bank Zambia, a subsidiary of the Standard Bank Group, recently launched the Zam-China Trade Connect—the Bank’s state-of-the-art facility established to finance cross-border trade between China and Zambia, previously known as the Africa China Trade Solution (ACTS). 

As part of this service offering, the Bank has dedicated Chinese desks that are manned by Chinese-speaking staff to navigate the language barrier that exists between the two markets and provide a seamless trade finance solutions service.

“Zambia is the first country in southern Africa to establish diplomatic relations with China. The traditional friendship between the two countries is profound, and the bilateral friendly and cooperative relations continue to develop. The Zambian market has broad prospects, and China-Zambia economic and trade interactions are frequent. 

“According to Chinese Customs’ statistics, from January to December 2022, the total bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached US $6.73 billion, a year-on-year increase of 30.2 per cent. Among them, China exported US $980 million and imported US $5.75 billion, a year-on-year increase of 25.5 per cent and 31.0 per cent respectively. ICBC and Standard Bank financial services will continue to deepen strategic cooperation and actively explore new opportunities, trends, and dynamics around China-Africa economic cooperation,” Liu said at the Golden Peacock Hotel in Lusaka. “In May last year, President Xi Jinping pointed out in the call with President Hichilema that it is necessary to strengthen strategic communication and policy mutual understanding, fully implement the “Nine Projects” launched in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, and promote more Zambian products, especially high-quality agricultural products, to enter the Chinese market.” 

Speaking at the same event, Stanbic’s Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, Helen Lubamba, said Stanbic was well-positioned to support further growth and bilateral trade between Zambia and China. 

“As Stanbic Bank Zambia, we have positioned ourselves to support the Chinese business sector with suitable financial services. We have tailor-made products for our Chinese clients that cover personal, enterprise, commercial and corporate banking needs. We do provide Chinese Yuan accounts for transactions as well as online banking services. We also provide Cash-in-Transit services, as well as an electronic cash management platform called i-Collect that will enable our clients to reconcile cash collections online.”

“On deal advisory services, we have deep expertise in key sectors of the economy.  We are excited to advise that our partner, ICBC, has provided Guarantees, fee collections and Cash in-Transit for construction projects such as the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Station, the Water Treatment Project and the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Airport in Ndola, to mention but a few. 

“To realize the potential available in the Africa-China Trade Corridor, we introduced the Zam-China Trade Connect where we have partnered with a reputable supply chain agent known as ‘Guamao.’ We are now able to connect Zambian companies wishing to import from China to reputable suppliers in China, online, which eliminates travel costs and language barriers for companies importing from China.”

In May, this year, Stanbic launched the Zam-China Trade Connect, the Bank’s state-of-the-art facility established to finance cross-border trade between China and Zambia. The market-leading solution, rebranded from the previous Africa-China Trade Solutions (ACTS), now enables Zambian businesses to import goods from China without the need to physically travel or incur additional and unnecessary costs, saving money.

Zambian importers now have access to over 35,000 reliable suppliers in China through the ICBC and the Zhejiang International Trading Supply Chain Company, also known as ‘Guomao’, to assist importers in executing seamless trade with China.

Data compiled by the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) shows that while Zambia’s biggest bilateral trading partner in Africa is South Africa, constituting 22.7 per cent of the country’s total share of imports, China remains Zambia’s largest trading partner outside the continent, responsible for around 15.1 per cent of the import bill. This translated to around K3 billion in February, this year, alone.

In March, this year, data also showed that Asia was the main source of Zambia’s imports accounting for 53.8 per cent. And within this grouping, China was the main source of imports accounting for 28.1 per cent.

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