CIIE a 'unique platform' for global companies to showcase products, services: S.African deputy president
Published: Nov 06, 2023 02:17 PM Updated: Nov 06, 2023 02:13 PM
 China South Africa Photo:VCG

China South Africa Photo:VCG

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday met with South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile in Beijing, as both sides eye strengthened cooperation.  

Xi said this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa, with the bilateral relationship entering a "golden era."

"China stands ready to work with South Africa to continuously enrich the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership and take bilateral relations to a new level," Xi said.

Xi also expressed China's willingness to work with South Africa and other African countries to implement China's three initiatives on supporting Africa's industrialization, agricultural modernization and talent development.

The meeting came one day after Mashatile attended the opening ceremony of the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Sunday, where he called the CIIE a "unique platform" that provides global companies with opportunities to showcase their products and services.

South Africa remains committed to deepening cooperation and expanding exchanges with China to lead to increased bilateral trade and investment, Mashatile said in Shanghai on Sunday.

"The private sector is translating all our efforts into tangible, technical, financial and human resource investments," Mashatile said in a speech delivered at a business forum in Shanghai on Sunday.

"We have agreed that South Africa needs to export more value-added products to the Chinese market. Historically we have been exporting raw materials, but we want to engage in making finished goods, so we are inviting Chinese businesspeople to come to South Africa to manufacture. In that way, South Africa can create jobs," Mashatile told the Global Times on Sunday. 

This is also why the CIIE is considered a very important platform for South African businesses, the deputy president said.

A total of 39 companies from South Africa took part in the 6th CIIE, involving areas such as agriculture and digital technology, he noted.

Before attending the CIIE opening ceremony, Mashatile met with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng in Beijing on Friday, and they co-chaired the eighth plenary session of the China-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC), according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The BNC is an important instrument for the relationship between China and South Africa, the deputy president said. It is on the basis of constantly strengthening bilateral exchanges that bilateral trade has seen continuous growth, rising from 544 billion rand ($29.84 billion) in 2021 to 614 billion rand in 2022.

South African and Chinese business relations have witnessed continued deepening over the past 30 years, with growth and progress in manufacturing, mining and logistics, and with a substantial scope of investment by enterprises including Hisense, Great Wall Motor Co and Huawei.

The deputy president also mentioned the increased deficit, which is why the country hopes to narrow the trade deficit by increasing access to Chinese markets for South African products.

In this regard, South Africa recently successfully completed its first export of soybeans to China, a milestone in the country's agricultural exports, according to a report from The South African government formally signed an export agreement with China in 2022 for soybeans and relevant products. 

In August, China began importing South African beef after a ban on the products, due to foot and mouth disease, was lifted. In September, the two countries agreed to allow avocados to be exported from South Africa to China.

In addition, Mashatile said he and his team would take the high-speed railway to Beijing on Monday as they are looking at plans to build high-speed rail in South Africa.

He also mentioned the potential high-speed rail project during a meeting with Dilma Rousseff, president of the New Development Bank, also known as the BRICS Bank, during a meeting in Shanghai on Sunday.