SA, China cooperation can bring mutual benefit for the future

Monday, August 21, 2023

Cooperation between China and South Africa can be a source of development and mutual benefit between both countries.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa through his weekly newsletter released ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Official State Visit to South Africa on Tuesday.

Diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Asian powerhouse span some 25 years with cooperation in several sectors including trade and investment, energy and tourism.

“We are encouraged by China’s ongoing commitment to supporting African countries to meet the aspirations contained in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“As we mark this significant milestone in South Africa-China relations, our country stands ready to work closely with the government and people of China towards a shared future of meaningful and mutual benefit,” he said.

The President highlighted that China’s development plan for its people, particularly in tackling poverty, has borne significant fruit – a feat that South Africa can learn from.

“South Africa has a great deal to learn from China’s development path. Among other achievements, China has lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty over a 40 year period. According to World Bank data, through this China has contributed close to three quarters of the global reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty.

“South Africa is eager to deepen its collaboration within the frameworks of China’s common prosperity doctrine and strategy and our own National Development Plan and Economic Reconstruction and Development Plan. South Africa is also keen to harness the developmental potential of China’s Belt and Road Initiative announced by President Xi in 2013.

“We are actively collaborating on the design and implementation of poverty alleviation strategies aligned with our respective developmental visions, as well as on women and youth empowerment,” President Ramaphosa said.

Areas for collaboration

Turning to tourism and energy, the President said these sectors offer great opportunities for both countries.

“Energy cooperation between South Africa and China is a focus area that holds great promise. In June this year companies from both countries participated in a New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference, which looked at opportunities for collaboration in the green economy, the just energy transition and on the transfer of science and technology.

“Tourism promotion is another area of cooperation. With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, China is an important source for tourism. It is significant that the number of visitors from China in June 2023 was four times higher than the same time last year.

“South African Tourism expects that inbound Chinese tourism will recover to pre-COVID levels by 2026. We will be actively promoting our country as a tourism destination for Chinese tourists at the China International Import Expo, China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and others. It is encouraging that direct flights between South Africa and China are increasing,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said this week’s Official State Visit will bring an opportunity for the two nations to address the trade deficit between the two.

“Bilateral trade with China has grown exponentially, from less than R1 billion in 1998 to over R614 billion in 2022. We hope to use this state visit to discuss how to narrow the significant trade deficit that exists in China’s favour, mainly through facilitating greater entry of value-added South African goods, products and services into the Chinese market,” he said.

International Affairs

President Ramaphosa highlighted that South Africa and China participate in several groupings on the international stage.

“In addition to a number of structured bilateral mechanisms, South Africa and China collaborate on international strategic platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation or FOCAC, BRICS, the G20, the G77 plus China alliance, and others.

“In 2025, South Africa will assume the Presidency of the G20 group of countries, and we are encouraged by China’s support for our Presidency.

“Our collaboration with China in international affairs and on multilateral platforms is underpinned by a commitment to the transformation of global governance institutions to make them more inclusive and to give more developing economy countries a voice,” President Ramaphosa said. –