Deputy President David Mabuza: China-South Africa Business Roundtable discussion

2 Nov 2019

Opening Remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza at the China-South Africa Business Roundtable Discussion, Shanghai

Programme Director, Deputy Minister Majola
President of the New Development Bank, Mr K.V Kamath
Vice President of the Bank, Mr Leslie Maasdorp and the Senior Management Team
Vice President of the China-African Development Fund, Mr Teng Liliang
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Deputy Director-General in the China Ministry of Commerce, Mr He Song
Business Leaders and representatives from China and South Africa
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

We are here as part of strengthening bilateral, political and economic relations between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. 

This business community roundtable takes place as part of the South Africa – China Bi-National Commission, which is co-chaired by the Deputy President of South Africa and Vice President Wang Qishan of China.

Part of what our two countries agree on under this Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, is the pursuit of shared and inclusive growth and development. 

Integral to the realisation of this mutually beneficial development is business to business engagements with a view to promoting trade and investment in our respective countries. 

We are also pleased to note that this Business Forum is taking place in the context of growing trade relations between South Africa and China. This year our two countries are celebrating 21 years of historic and strong diplomatic ties that are characterized by deepening people to people engagements.

This visit is timely as it coincides with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. It is an inspiring story of resilience, prosperity and social progress. It is  a demonstration of leadership vision, discipline, long-term planning and execution.

At the 20th anniversary of our diplomatic relations last year, our partnership with China was upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, defined by three major characteristics, namely, strategic, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial.   

This Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is underpinned by four major cooperation platforms, namely, the Forum on China - Africa Cooperation, BRICS, the Belt and Road Initiative and the South-South Cooperation. These platforms continue to yield significant dividends for both countries.

We are pleased to note that the total trade between South Africa and China has grown from R271 billion in 2013 to R332 billion by the end of last year.  

In the main, this trade has been driven by the export of manufactured and high-tech products from China while South Africa has been exporting primary products and commodities to China. 

The trade balance has soared from 38 billion Rands to 122 billion Rands in 2018, and the trade surplus has been in favour of China, creating a concerning imbalance between our two countries. 

In our deliberations with Vice President Wang, we agreed that targeted measures need to be implemented to correct this imbalance. 

Some of these measures include:
• Diversifying South Africa’s export products, 
• Investing in the beneficiation of raw materials and primary products to support rapid industrialization and job creation in South Africa,
• Expanding market access of South African products into China, mainly beef, citrus, soybeans, fresh produce, and processed products,
• Removing trade barriers, including tariff and non-tariff barriers.
• Promoting inward buying missions to increase the procurement of South African products.

Over and above these measures, we have agreed that we need to have targeted focus on promoting investments to support South Africa’s re-industrialisation programme. 

We welcome existing investments by Chinese companies in sectors such as real estate, automotives and metals. These investments were further augmented by new commitments at the 2018 South Africa Investment Conference.

Once again, we would like to call on you to prioritise South Africa as your investment destination.

For our part as government, we can assure you that we are doing all that is necessary to improve the ease of doing business, including regulatory reforms, business incentives and the improvement of the visa regime. 

As part of promoting the export of South African products, we will tomorrow be officially opening the South Africa Import Pavillion at the Greenland Global Community Trading Hub as a platform to facilitate trade. 

The South Africa Import Pavillion will feature a diverse range of Proudly South African products which allows tangible access for Chinese traders to directly interact with our products to help facilitate and promote more trade. 

We are calling on you as business leaders to seize investment and trade opportunities presented by the existing relations between our two countries.

There are opportunities in infrastructure development, renewable energy, information and communication technologies, tourism, commercialization of research and development products, agro-processing, to name a few. 

One of the key pillars of our industrialization programme is the establishment of Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks. The two countries are already collaborating in this area in terms of exchange of technical expertise, and promotion of investments in these designated Special Economic Zones.

These industrial development zones present endless opportunities to investors to enter the South African market and expand into the African continent. South Africa has sound infrastructure and world class banking systems to support investments.

We are pleased to announce that from 5 to10 November this year, here in Shanghai, a group of South African companies will be showcasing their products when they participate in the Second China International Import Expo. 

Through this participation, South Africa hopes to develop export markets for our products and services and to recruit new foreign direct investment into our country. 

We welcome the China International Import Expo as part of the initiatives by the Chinese Government to support the promotion of equitable trade. 

This is an open international cooperation platform for countries to showcase their products as well as discuss major issues of foreign trade, world economy and global economic governance.

Furthermore, we are encouraged by the continued support and commitment from our partners such as the New Development Bank and the China-Africa Development Fund, who continue to support economic growth and development in Africa. 

Once again, we thank you for attending this Business Roundtable. It is a demonstration of your keen interest in the opportunities that exist between South Africa and China. 

The existing relations between the two countries, are solid and mutually beneficial. Their continued growth is further dependent on the role that business can play in supporting the agenda of shared and inclusive development.  

Just as we have a structured engagement at government level through the Bi-National Commission, we would like to encourage the business sector to create and solidify partnerships through joint-ventures that enhance forward and backward linkages. 

I thank you.

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