China-South Africa relations have received a fillip with the signing by Chinese companies of 20 deals to buy products worth $2.2 billion from South African companies. South African and Chinese government officials attended a signing ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday. Ebrahim Patel, South Africa’s minister of trade, industry and competition, said the deals will create jobs in the country and grow the economy. South African companies that signed the deals included Anglo Platinum, Glencore and Sappi.
In addition to creating jobs and benefiting South Africa economically, they provide opportunities to young people, Patel said.
“This represents the building block to the next phase of our relationship, to deepen the close partnership with China to strengthen industrialization in South Africa. …As we deepen our trade we look forward to doing more things together.”
The country’s relationship with China resulted in a two-way trade worth more than $47 billion last year, and Chinese investment in South Africa is now worth about $10.5 billion, he said, and the countries’ governments are committed to strengthening the relationship in those two spheres.
Wang Wentao, China’s minister of commerce, met South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile in Pretoria, and toured some businesses, accompanied by Patel.
The two countries held an official session of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee. Patel said the aim is to change the composition of trade so that South Africa exports more manufactured and value-added products to China.
Wang, speaking at the signing ceremony, said trade relations are growing steadily, and there is the prospect of even greater growth in trade ties not only with South Africa but with other countries on the continent as well.
Andre Oberholzer, group head of corporate affairs at Sappi, a paper producer, said his company had signed a deal worth $20 million to export to China wood fiber used in making textiles.
“The big thing for us is that forestry helps the rural economy, creates stable jobs over a long period and generates export income for South Africa.”
Humaira Thebe-Choonara, chief executive of the Progressive Business Forum in Johannesburg, welcomed the signing of the deals, saying that in addition to generating additional income for South African companies, they would generate employment. Thebe-Choonara said she came with 25 companies that are looking forward to doing business with Chinese companies. Theuns Botha, chief executive of Kingday Textiles, said he has been selling its products to China for 30 years. There are many opportunities in China in various sectors, and it is up to South African companies to seize the opportunities once they find out about how to do business there, he said.
Stavros Nicolaou, of the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council, said relations with China have grown at the political and business level. The council has adopted a targeted approach for trading with all BRICS partners, Nicolaou said.