China’s ambassador to Namibia Zhao Weiping has said the two countries’ presidents maintain close working communication which is something that has provided strategic guidance for the development of bilateral relations.
He noted the second important development in terms of bilateral relations this year is the picking up of the exchanges of official visits between the two countries which was almost completely stopped in the three years since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The third achievement of the bilateral relations is the further strengthening of bilateral trade and economic cooperation. According to the statistics by the Chinese side, from January to September, China-Namibia bilateral trade volume reached US$1 billion, an increase of 29% over the same period of last year,” he shared while engaging the media at the Chinese embassy in Windhoek.
Zhao noted that although no major investment projects have been announced this year, an increasing number of Chinese companies are showing their interest in investment opportunities in Namibia.
He said: “We don’t have official statistics for the number of Chinese tourists to Namibia so far this year, but according to the local Chinese travel agencies, Namibia is expected to receive about 8000 Chinese tourists this year, which is almost half of the number in peak times before the pandemic.”
The diplomat stated that the ongoing Chinese government grant projects are progressing smoothly, including the four rural school projects in the north, which will be completed soon, the new airport road 2B section, and the satellite data ground receiving station.
“Based on my understanding of our two countries and the nature of our bilateral relations, I have set the cooperation in the areas of agriculture, education infrastructure and talent development as the key priorities of my work in the time ahead,” he stated.
Zhao said agriculture is critically important for Namibia, either for ensuring food security or solving the unemployment problem and he is sensitive to all the issues related to agricultural cooperation between the two countries.
“Recently, when I learned from the newspaper that Namibia is experiencing a big shortage of food, I immediately reported to my government. I am very happy that the Chinese government has announced to provide a grant of 10 million Chinese Yuan (approximately N$26 million, subject to exchange fluctuations) for emergency food aid to Namibia. Currently, the embassy is discussing with the Namibian government on the implementation of the aid,” he revealed.
He said this is the first year after the pandemic and the achievements made have laid a good foundation for bilateral exchanges next year and he hopes there will be more tangible cooperation.
“We will forge closer economic cooperation in various fields, not only in the mining sector but also in renewable energy like green hydrogen and other areas. We should also explore the possibilities for both countries to conduct more projects within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. China also stands ready to expand its import from Namibia by providing Namibian agricultural and aquatic products more access to the Chinese market,” he said.