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Can Germany compete with China for raw materials?

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andybob

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By Everson Mashavave, Staff Writer
Friday, 03 June 2011 17:28

HARARE - Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, says China’s dealings with
African countries such as Zimbabwe are imbalanced and exploitative.

Albrecht Conze, the outgoing German ambassador to Zimbabwe, told journalists
in Harare yesterday his country was concerned about China’s underhand
approach to trade which left African countries poorer.

Addressing his last press conference in Harare at the end of his two-year
diplomatic mission, Conze said he was concerned that Zimbabwe’s trade
agreements with China did not seek to give Zimbabwe real value for its
resources.

“Most of the agreements signed today by China will buy out the whole world’s
raw materials and block other countries from having access to these raw
materials.” he said.

Conze spoke as Parliament approved a deal that will see Zimbabwe mortgage
Chiadzwa diamonds worth US$100 million to China in exchange for military
help in a 20-year loan deal. Zimbabwe will repay the loan using its vast
alluvial diamond resources. China is the world’s second biggest economy
after the United States.

Conze said his country offered positive engagement that would benefit
Zimbabwe.

“I think you are aware that Germany’s second biggest bank had come up with a
proposal to fund infrastructural development in Zimbabwe to the tune of $700
million over a period of 10 years as long as there was only a guarantee that
German buyers on Zimbabwe’s mineral market would not be left out,” he said.

“We have modern technology to add value to mining. Unlike what is happening
in Chiadzwa where truckloads of unprocessed diamonds are taken outside the
country, Germany would ensure that minerals are processed in Zimbabwe for
the benefit of locals,” he said.

Zimbabwe has for the past decade enjoyed warm relations with China after
falling out with the West over human rights abuses.

Unlike Western countries, China has become a preferred friend because it
turns a blind eye to rights abuses, instead choosing to strengthen ties with
political leaders including some of the worst dictators.

Chinese now controls vast business in retail, mining, agriculture and
construction in Zimbabwe. But they have constantly come under criticism from
labour unions for their inhumane treatment of workers.

Conze said he had managed to improve the perception on Zimbabwe and put the
country back on the German map after years of being a pariah state. The
biggest obstacle, he said, was the uncertainty surrounding the
implementation of the indigenisation law.

“I have advised minister (of indigenisation) Saviour Kasukuwere on several
times that my criticism of the policy was not ideological, but constructive.
I keep encouraging German investors to take a close look at the
opportunities in Zimbabwe but the current indigenisation drive and the
threatening tone used by some high profile advocates deter them from
investing,” said Conze.

“Zimbabwe has plenty of mineral resources and is a good investment
destination to any country in the world due to two major reasons. First it
has the most educated middle class and second, Zimbabwe still has
well-functioning infrastructure,” said Conze.

Conze blamed politics on Zimbabwe’s poor economic performance.

“Once the politics are not on the way of economic development, Zimbabwe will
need not more than seven years to stand alone without foreign aid. Zimbabwe
has a mixture of advantages that range from good mineral deposits to the
educated human resources and in 10 years Zimbabwe will be supporting other
African countries,” said the outspoken ambassador.
 

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