China, South Africa sign economic pacts
Rail project, deals on investment, trade, agriculture in mix
China and South Africa signed 11 agreements, including one on transportation, on Thursday in Beijing as top leaders of the world’s second-largest economy and the African economic powerhouse laid the groundwork for cooperation for the next decade.
The memorandum on cooperation between CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive and Transnet, South Africa’s state-owned freight transport and logistics company, came after the African country embarked on one of the world’s biggest rail projects to overhaul its passenger trains.
The other agreements included a program for cooperation over the next 10 years, and to boost trade, investment and agriculture.
Developing the Sino-South African relationship is a priority of Chinese foreign policy, President Xi Jinping told South African President Jacob Zuma in their meetings before the signing.
Zuma said South Africa welcomed Chinese enterprises’ investment, and their participation in his country’s development of infrastructure, special economic zones and industrial parks.
Zuma arrived in Beijing on Wednesday, accompanied by a 100-member business delegation and several ministers.
Zuma said before his arrival that one major goal of the visit is to ensure that ties “remain central to realizing our developmental agenda through our foreign policy”.
China has been South Africa’s single largest trading partner for many years, and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
China’s accumulated investment in South Africa reached $11 billion by the end of 2013, said Tian Xuejun, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa.
However, South Africa wants more investment from China to boost its industries and manufacturing capacity and to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on the mining sector, said Yang Lihua, an expert on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Yang said that both sides have a great potential for cooperation as South Africa is devoted to pushing forward industrialization and China is undergoing industrial reconstruction.
A stronger relationship will also encourage closer cooperation between China and the rest of Africa, she added.
One-third of Chinese trade with the continent in 2013 was with South Africa, AFP reported.