Forum focuses on boosting intercountry trade
“As a Chinese businessman, I understood that there were many opportunities in Africa and South Africa for locals and Chinese to work together.”
It’s why he stayed and worked to build his business, although he began with so little and faced the enormous pressures of starting up in a foreign country.
“I have witnessed the eco- nomic and political relationship between China and South Africa grow since 1994. China and South Africa are moving forward in the same direction with cultural integration.”
Focac has been held triennially between Beijing and countries in Africa since 2000. In 2009 it took place in Egypt and in 2012 in China. Now it’s Joburg’s turn to play host to what is seen as a critically important high-level trade and political conference.
The pressure is on for South Africa to ensure that Focac Six is attended by as many African heads of state as possible, and that it yields the right kind of trade agreements, political ties and aid for the continent.
In his early days trading in South Africa, Xu noticed there were few places where people could buy goods made in China. He wanted a central shopping space where Chinese products could be available. He knew shoppers would benefit from the affordable prices and being able to shop under one roof.
Xu began building his first China Mall in 2004. His SinoAfrican Property ( Pty) Ltd developed the China Mall West in Roodepoort , and China Mall Durban in 2010.
Each of the malls has space for 500 shops and parking space for 3 000 vehicles. More than 3 000 jobs have been created.
Xu says the next step is for locals to manufacture and process on African shores, which would have benefits for both continents.
“Chinese business people used to come to South Africa only to trade. But the relationship between the two countries means that Chinese businesses need to bring more to the table. – they need to manufacture here so we can transfer skills and create jobs for the locals.”
China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner.
Last year, the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation said China recorded nearly R2.2trillion in trade flows in Africa. China’s trade with South Africa increased from about R190billion to R270bn in 2013 alone.
The forum takes place on Friday and Saturday at the Sandton Convention Centre.