Op­por­tu­ni­ties beckon across South Africa

China Daily European Weekly - - Business -

in pro­mot­ing pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion, in­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity, unim­peded trade, fi­nan­cial in­te­gra­tion and strength­ened peo­ple-to-peo­ple re­la­tions in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, Lin said.

More­over, sev­eral sem­i­nars on Xi Jin­ping Thought on So­cial­ism with Chi­nese Char­ac­ter­is­tics for a New Era were held in South Africa af­ter the 19th Na­tional Con­gress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Oc­to­ber. Par­tic­i­pants hailed China’s achieve­ments in re­form and open­ing-up, poverty al­le­vi­a­tion and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment over the past decades.

Chi­nese en­ter­prises that have in­vested in South Africa have brought many job op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal peo­ple and contributed to both coun­tries’ sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment by pro­vid­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices that cater to lo­cal peo­ple’s needs, Lin added.

By the end of last year, Chi­nese in­vest­ment in South Africa ex­ceeded $25 bil­lion (21 bil­lion eu­ros; £19 bil­lion), cre­at­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs for lo­cal peo­ple, Lin said. In­vest­ment is ex­pected to dou­ble within five years, he said.

Lin, a na­tive of Zhangzhou, Fu­jian province, said there were more than 300,000 Chi­nese in­vestors in South Africa.

Tang said that he, as pres­i­dent of Farm­ers’ Daily, the largest Chi­nese news­pa­per fo­cused on agri­cul­ture, would spare no ef­fort in en­cour­ag­ing Chi­nese agri­cul­tural entrepreneurs to tap the South African mar­ket.

He said he planned to or­ga­nize a del­e­ga­tion of Chi­nese entrepreneurs to visit the coun­try and in­ves­ti­gate the mar­ket soon.

With re­gard to is­sues that may con­cern for­eign in­vestors, Lin said South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa — who took of­fice in Fe­bru­ary and is ex­pected to make a state visit to China in Septem­ber — is work­ing to tackle chal­lenges posed by se­cu­rity prob­lems, in­con­sis­tent poli­cies for for­eign in­vestors and in­ef­fi­cient gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

Lin said South African of­fi­cials would be in­vited to visit Tian­jin mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Xi­a­men, Fu­jian province, and at­tend train­ing ses­sions on one-stop gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

South Africa has good, solid diplo­matic re­la­tions with China, said Michael Cur­rin, ex­ec­u­tive deputy di­rec­tor of South Africa’s Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem, dur­ing a meet­ing with the me­dia del­e­ga­tion in Johannesburg on May 29.

China and South Africa share a rich his­tory of co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas of trade, in­vest­ment, skills trans­fer and tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, he said. The re­la­tion­ship con­tin­ues to thrive af­ter the two coun­tries forged a com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship in 2010. This year also marks the 20th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the coun­tries.

South Africa has been the African co-chair of the Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion since 2015 and has the ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency of the BRICS mech­a­nism, Cur­rin said.

China is not only South Africa’s largest trad­ing part­ner but also a sig­nif­i­cant in­vestor, es­pe­cially in such ar­eas as in­fra­struc­ture and in­dus­trial projects, he said. “We are for­ever grate­ful for China’s con­tin­u­ous sup­port for the de­vel­op­ment of South Africa.”

Sev­eral Chi­nese com­pa­nies have launched op­er­a­tions in South Africa, and their suc­cess and ex­pe­ri­ence are in­spir­ing oth­ers to fol­low suit.

The re­frig­er­a­tor and tele­vi­sion fac­to­ries of Hisense Group, a Chi­nese home ap­pli­ance maker, in Cape Town have only 35 Chi­nese em­ploy­ees but em­ploy more than 2,700 lo­cal work­ers, said Lin, who vis­ited the fac­to­ries on May 16.

Hisense launched op­er­a­tions in South Africa in 1996 and is the coun­try’s No 1 TV man­u­fac­turer and No 2 re­frig­er­a­tor pro­ducer.

The com­pany has set a good ex­am­ple in la­bor-man­age­ment re­la­tions for over­seas Chi­nese en­ter­prises by in­no­vat­ing man­age­ment styles, Lin said. In the com­pany’s fac­to­ries, fam­i­lies of the work­ers are al­lowed to visit on an open day ev­ery month, and pho­tos of lo­cal work­ers who have per­formed well are hung on a wall of honor. The chil­dren of the work­ers feel so proud of their par­ents when they are in­vited to visit the fac­to­ries, he said.

Chi­nese agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises should also vig­or­ously seek in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the South African mar­ket and help lo­cal farm­ers shake off poverty, Lin said, not­ing that the coun­try boasts a va­ri­ety of agri­cul­tural re­sources and large parcels of un­de­vel­oped land.

The am­bas­sador sug­gested that Chi­nese com­pa­nies sign con­tracts with lo­cal farm­ers to in­te­grate pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing and mar­ket­ing of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal sup­port to solve the farm­ers’ mar­ket­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

Lin said he was plan­ning to work with the South African gov­ern­ment to des­ig­nate three vil­lages as pi­lots for poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ef­forts. If Chi­nese en­ter­prises suc­ceed at turning South Africa’s un­de­vel­oped land into high-yield crop­land, or­chards and an­i­mal hus­bandry bases, food se­cu­rity in China and the world at large will be fur­ther guar­an­teed, Lin said.

New Hope South Africa Ltd, a sub­sidiary of New Hope Group, China’s largest private agri­cul­tural com­pany, has been a fore­run­ner among Chi­nese agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises that have in­vested in the coun­try.

Es­tab­lished in Klipriver Busi­ness Park in Al­ber­ton in 2013, New Hope South Africa oc­cu­pies an area of 33,000 square me­ters. With an in­vest­ment of 100 mil­lion yuan ($15.6 mil­lion), the com­pany started pro­duc­ing an­i­mal feed early in 2016. It has in­creased its an­nual pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity to 60,000 met­ric tons, with an­nual out­put reach­ing 100 mil­lion yuan, ac­cord­ing to Zhao Yang, gen­eral man­ager of the com­pany.

With 70 em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing nine from the Chi­nese main­land, the com­pany has di­ver­si­fied its op­er­a­tions.

The com­pany has in­no­va­tively pro­duced dog food us­ing ex­ist­ing equip­ment, mak­ing it the first of New Hope Group’s over­seas out­lets to do so.

New Hope Group’s feed busi­ness has en­tered more than 20 coun­tries and re­gions, cre­at­ing around 100,000 jobs over­seas, Liu Yong­hao, chair­man of New Hope Group, said in an ear­lier re­port.

New Hope South Africa has also made great ef­forts to train lo­cal work­ers, share poul­try breed­ing skills with lo­cal farm­ers and par­tic­i­pate in lo­cal pub­lic wel­fare events, Zhao said.

The com­pany has also pro­moted Chi­nese tech­niques for rais­ing chick­ens in el­e­vated cage houses, which greatly cuts costs and re­duces the chances of poul­try get­ting sick, Zhao said. The tech­nol­ogy is the most ad­vanced in the world, he claimed, adding that in South Africa and other re­gions in the world, in­clud­ing Europe, farm­ers gen­er­ally raise chick­ens on the ground.

Mean­while, the com­pany has spon­sored the South African pre­lim­i­nary round of the 10th Chi­nese Bridge Chi­nese Pro­fi­ciency Com­pe­ti­tion for For­eign Sec­ondary School Stu­dents and pro­vided sports gear for lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers par­tic­i­pat­ing in po­lice soc­cer league matches. Such moves have ef­fec­tively im­proved aware­ness of the com­pany among lo­cal peo­ple, Zhao said.

For its Chi­nese em­ploy­ees who work far away from their fam­i­lies, the com­pany of­fers a 45-day paid va­ca­tion, and fam­ily mem­bers can have flight ticket costs re­im­bursed once a year if they choose to visit their loved ones in South Africa, Zhao said.

An­gel Ap­pel­cryn Bui­tendag, who has worked for the com­pany as an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant for seven months, said: “New Hope em­ploys a lot of lo­cals, which hints at a great fu­ture for ev­ery­body. There are a lot of peo­ple de­pen­dent on the salary they get from here, with which they feed their fam­i­lies.”

When asked if New Hope had in­tro­duced any Chi­nese cul­ture, she said South Africans had learned a lot from Chi­nese work­ers and were in­spired by the way Chi­nese peo­ple do busi­ness. She also said she be­lieved the Chi­nese had learned much from peo­ple in South Africa.

Chi­nese busi­nesses are in­vited to ex­plore the coun­try’s po­ten­tial and help to ex­pand bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion

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