Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s central bank announced on Wednesday it would accept the Chinese yuan and three other Asian currencies as legal tender as economic relations have improved in recent years.

"Trade and investment ties between Zimbabwe, China, India, Japan and Australia have grown appreciably," said Charity Dhliwayo, acting governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Exporters and the public can now open accounts in yuans, Australian dollars, Indian rupees and Japanese yen, Dhliwayo said. Zimbabwe abandoned its worthless currency in 2009.

It accepts the US dollar and the South African rand as the main legal tender. Their use has helped to stabilise the economy after world-record inflation threw it into a tailspin.

Independent economist Chris Mugaga said the introduction of the Asian currencies would not make a huge difference to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

"It is Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy, which has forced this, and nothing else," he said.

President Robert Mugabe has sought to boost economic relations with Asia after his relations with the West came under strain over his policy of seizing white-owned farms.

Chinese investors have over the past two decades entered diamond mining, construction and retail sectors in the south-east African country.

Sapa-dpa