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Mozambique seeks more support in battling outbreak

By CHEN YINGQUN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-08 10:13

Chinese agricultural expert (second from right) instructs local workers to use a drone to spray herbicide at an agricultural park in Mozambique on Nov 28, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's efforts in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and its readiness to share information and experience with the world should be appreciated, said Maria Gustava, Mozambique's ambassador to China.

She said that cooperation is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. And in a globalized world, no country can be safe while the virus is still spreading and affecting other countries.

Gustava said that from the start of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Africa stood in solidarity with China, and now that COVID-19 is spreading across the African continent, China is assisting Africa through sending medical experts and sanitary supplies.

"I applaud China for its national unity and its tireless efforts to control the epidemic, as well as its readiness to share information and experience," she said.

Africa has so far registered over 383,700 coronavirus infections and over 9,600 deaths, according to figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

And in Mozambique, nearly 900 people have been infected with the coronavirus.

She said that at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 held on June 17, China assured African countries of its continuous support in the fight against COVID-19, adding that it is "a clear demonstration of the willingness and commitment of both sides to deepen cooperation and collectively overcome this common enemy".

She also said that the Chinese government, companies and non-government institutions have offered help to Mozambique in the past few months, through video exchanges of experience and sanitary supplies such as masks, gloves, thermometers, and ventilators.

As Mozambique has not yet reached its peak of infections, the assistance from China will still be needed, she said.

"We count mostly on our close allies like China to share its experience and material support for testing capacity, medicines, vaccines and hospital facilities," she said.

Mozambique will also need China's assistance to cope with the economic and financial impact of COVID-19 in all forms, including debt cancellation, suspension and renegotiation of debts, grants or concessional funding and food assistance, she said.

Gustava said the consequences of the pandemic had been severe in developing economies like Mozambique, due to its vulnerability to internal and external factors, particularly the reduction in the production of goods and services, falling commodities prices, the collapse of tourism and falling investment, and the impact on small and medium-sized enterprises, which constitute the base of the economy.

Gustava said that while this year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Mozambique, the impact of the virus on the economies of the two countries would affect bilateral economic relations in terms of flow of trade and investment, but she is optimistic considering new windows of opportunity for cooperation between the two countries.

"China is Mozambique's largest trading partner. In 2018, China was the second largest source of imports and was the fifth largest export market for Mozambique," she said.

Bilateral trade

Trade between Mozambique and China hit $2.6 billion in 2019, an increase of 6.06 percent compared with 2018.

According to figures from the Chinese General Administration of Customs, exports from Mozambique to China grew by 4.94 percent to $711 million, while imports increased by 9.28 percent to $1.9 billion. In 2018, China was the second-largest investor in Mozambique, following the United Arab Emirates.

She said that Mozambique has rich and diverse natural resources and abundant labor. And the government of Mozambique is committed to enabling a business-friendly economic environment to attract foreign investment.

Gustava also said she wanted to see more Chinese investment in Mozambique in the future.

Separately, she said that China's Belt and Road Initiative constitutes an important mechanism for bilateral economic relations since it opens windows for the implementation of crucial infrastructure projects that allow connectivity for business and movement of peoples and goods.

"Since Mozambique is a gateway to Southern Africa, the BRI will provide infrastructures that give access to land-locked South Africa Development Community countries (ports, railways, pipelines, and roads), therefore creating conditions for easy connections between China and Southern Africa as well as for Mozambique's economic development," she said.

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