Fo­rum fo­cuses on boost­ing in­ter­coun­try trade

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

Commerce.

“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.

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