Oct. 3 – While South Africa’s traditional trading partners the European Union and the United States are having a hard time dealing with the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, China has been gradually building up its relations with the emerging power of the African continent.
Leading an economic and trade delegation, South African Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe came to China at Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s invitation for a visit scheduled to last from September 27-30, 2011.
During Motlanthe’s visit, the China Development Bank and the Development Bank of South Africa signed a US$2.5 billion agreement. In addition, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on geological exploration and mineral resources.
“This financial cooperation agreement is between development banks and the specific projects in which they are going to invest, they still have to identify these projects,” Motlanthe said at a small press conference.
Later, Motlanthe and his delegation attended the South Africa-China Business Forum with China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, reports said.
“China is an important trading partner of South Africa,” Motlanthe said at the Forum. “The South African government is willing to remove any unnecessary obstacles to improve the investment environment, so as to offer good conditions for Chinese investors in South Africa.”
Motlanthe noted that he hoped China would be able to enter other African markets with the help of South Africa.
Statistics show that, by the end of July 2011, China had already invested US$4.2 billion in South Africa and it raised the credit line for South Africa up to US$20 billion.
On Thursday, Motlanthe met with China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. According to Motlanthe, South Africa expects China to further expand imports of high value-added products, especially food, chemicals, steel and aluminum products, and automobile as well as agricultural and industrial products from South Africa.
Wen responded that China welcomes South African products, and it will encourage Chinese companies and financial institutions to invest in transportation, energy and communication industries in South Africa. At the same time, China hopes the two sides will expand cooperation in new and renewable energy, manufacturing, green energy and agriculture.
On Friday, the last day of his trip, Motlanthe held talks with China’s President Hu Jintao. Both sides vowed that in order to realize the provisions of the Beijing Declaration they will further strengthen their communication, deepen mutual trust and expand their cooperation.
The Beijing Declaration, which was signed last month between South African President Jacob Zuma and Chinese President Hu Jintao, is a document said to mark the beginning of a new era in South African-Chinese relations. The document includes a series of joint agreements ranging from political dialogue, trade, investment, mineral exploration and agriculture which, it is hoped, will see greater collaborative efforts between China and South Africa in the global arena. In the declaration, two sides vowed to strengthen the cooperation in both political and economic issues by establishing a “comprehensive strategic relationship.”