PRETORIA– The South African and Chinese governments have signed several agreements, including one for an investment commitment from China to the tune of 14.7 billion US dollars.
This was announced here Tuesday following discussions between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa to further deepen trade and bilateral relations. Xi is making a State visit to South Africa and to attend the 10th BRICS Summit beginning in Johannesburg of Wednesday.
We have signed several agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) which are intended to further deepen our relations, including investment commitments to the value of 14.7 billion USD,” Ramaphosa told the media.
President Xi has indicated that China is ready to invest and work with South Africa in various sectors, such as infrastructure development, the Ocean Economy, the Green Economy, science and technology, agriculture, environment and finance.
Some of the agreements signed are in the areas of trade and industry, agriculture and science and technology. Several South African State-owned companies will also benefit. These are Transnet, Naspers and power utility Eskom, which has obtained a 2.5 billion USD loan from the China Development Bank.
Eskom chief executive officer Phakamani Hadebe told the media that the 2.5 billion USD loan agreement is strategic for the utility, both for investment and capital growth.
“At the beginning of the year, we indicated we need to borrow 72 billion Rand (about 5.42 billion USD) to operate efficiently. Since January, we have raised 57 billion Rand. Today we signed (a loan agreement for) 2.5 billion USD. This amount moves our funding from 22 per cent to 66 per cent, he said.
Meanwhile, trade between South Africa and China has been growing since 2009, moving from 118 billion Rand to 271 billion Rand by the end of 2013. However, while there is a trade imbalance between China and South Africa, and both countries have implemented various mechanisms to address these discrepancies, President Ramaphosa said.
Both South Africa and China hope that these newly signed agreements and investment commitment will help balance the trade between Pretoria and the Asian giant.
We also recognized that although trade figures have grown steadily over the past few years, bilateral trade has not reached its potential. We have thus explored avenues for increasing trade, identifying sectors for future investment and promoting tourism, said President Ramaphosa.
President Xi, who was accompanied on his visit to South Africa by his wife, Peng Liyuan, used the occasion to acknowledge the close and high-level exchanges and fruitful practical co-operation across the board. He described South Africa as a good brother and comrade.
Speaking through an interpreter, President Xi said the two countries needed to start a new chapter of elevating their relations.
South African is on a new journey for national development. China and South Africa relations are at a new historical departure point. Just now, President Ramaphosa and I had a very productive discussion on how to take our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) to new heights.
The two countries also committed to further increase development co-operation in infrastructure, trade, technology and financial co-operation to unlock collaboration potential.
We support the proposed investment summit and we will be taking active measures to support the government of South Africa in achieving its developmental agenda.
But above all, the two countries committed to putting the people at the centre of their co-operation, as this will bring greater public support for a China-South Africa friendship, and make the people more closely connected.
President Xi called for strengthened collaboration and strategic co-ordination in international organizations such as the United Nations, Group of 20 (leading developed and emerging economies) and BRICS in order to promote the reform of the global governance system in a joint effort to advance the fundamental interests of African and other developing countries.
This was echoed by President Ramaphosa, who said both countries will continue to advance the centrality of the UN and other multilateral fora in resolving issues of global concern.
In 2019, South Africa will commence its two-year non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. South Africa and China (a permanent member of the UNSC) will continue to work together in full accord over the need for the reform of the structures and modalities of the work of the UN, he said.
The State visit forms part of a number of activities South Africa and China committed to jointly undertake during the course of this year under the umbrella of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
South Africa and China celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which have advanced from a simple partnership to a strategic one, and now to a comprehensive strategic alliance.
The China State visit coincides with the 10th BRICS Summit, which kicks off Wednesday at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK