South African and Chinese firms conclude R41-billion export deal

The nocturnal trade and investment talks between South Africa and China in Pretoria on Thursday night are reaching the gelling stage – and are set to strengthen relations between the two countries.

During the talks, South African and Chinese companies also concluded deals of more than R41-billion, where agreements were made to boost locally manufactured exports to China, and also boost Chinese investment in other Southern African countries.

The good news is that China has committed to help South Africa industrialise on a large scale, an activity that will help deal with the high rate of unemployment in the country, among some of the benefits derived from the relationship.

The talks were led by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel and his Chinese counterpart, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, under the auspices of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETC).

That the talks took place at night is a symbolic reflection of the importance of the interaction between both countries, committed to holding each
other’s hands in terms of strengthening their trade and investment links.

The meeting was also in preparation of the planned state visit of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, on August 22.

Essentially, the discussions between Patel and Wentao were focused on increasing trade to boost South Africa’s exports of more manufactured and value-added products to China.

Bilateral trade relations between the two countries last year topped R900-billion. Chinese investment in South Africa stands close to R200-billion.

The JETC discussions also noted the extraordinary progress China has made in green technologies, including the manufacture of electric vehicles.

Patel and Wentao also reviewed progress made in developing the memorandum of understanding on the green economy, the blue (oceans) economy, digital trade, investment and special economic zones.

“China is South Africa’s largest trading partner. The talks focused on ways to expand South Africa’s export of both manufactured and agricultural products to China, raise Chinese levels of investment in South Africa’s industrial activities and increase the number of trade missions between the two countries.

“The two parties agreed to address customs fraud and under-invoicing in a determined manner.

“China agreed to partner South Africa’s efforts to industrialise further and to transition to a greener manufacturing economy,” said Patel.

He also said since the dawn of democracy, both countries had worked tirelessly to deepen their political and economic relationship through trade, which includes the exchange of goods.

“The third and new phase of deepening our economic relationship is where we want to shift to now. This is the one thing that will support deeper industrialisation and green industries in South Africa.

“Our levels of trade are significant. The composition of our trade needs to change. It has been focused principally on raw materials.

“We now need to shift to greater levels of industrial exports of manufactured goods,” said Patel.

Companies from both countries also shared notes on their trading and investment agendas.

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