Address by President Zuma during the China-South Africa Business Forum Meeting, on the occasion of the State Visit to the People's Republic of China, Beijing

Honourable Ministers; 
Captains of Industry; 
Distinguished Guests; 

We meet on the second day of a very successful State Visit to this beautiful country.

Yesterday we had fruitful discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

The discussions reaffirmed the warm and wonderful relations between South Africa and China, which date back many years ago during the struggle for liberation in our country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet on a sad day in our country as it is the day on which our founding President Nelson Mandela passed on last year. 

The 5th of December is thus a day of reflection on the road travelled since the dawn of freedom in 1994, and the contribution of President Mandela and the ANC collective to the building of a new democratic and free South Africa.

We are grateful to Madiba's leadership as the first president of our country, as he laid a firm foundation. 

Because of that foundation, we have built a thriving constitutional democracy in a short space of time. 

We have also worked hard in his memory, to expand access to a better life, building on his work. 

Millions of black South Africans have access to water, electricity, health care, education and other services that they did not have access to before 1994.

President Mandela's vision that inspired us on the road to building a cohesive, united non-racial South Africa, is still very much alive today and continues to shape our vision for our country. He will continue to be an inspiration not only to South Africans, but the world at large.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our meeting with the business community of China and South Africa takes forward the strong economic relations between the two countries.

It is also significant that we are in China during the 20th Anniversary of our democracy and also just as we close the Year of South Africa in China. 

We are grateful to President Xi Jinping and the government of China for declaring 2014 the year of South Africa in China. 

This has served to promote South African culture and the economy and to advance cooperation in many spheres. We look forward to a successful Year of China in South Africa next year. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet on a high note, given the success of this visit and the progress made with the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership through the Bi-national Commission and the Inter-ministerial Joint Working Group established recently.

Yesterday we took our cooperation further and signed the 5 to 10 Year Framework on Cooperation to further enhance the implementation of the outcomes of the Bi-National Commission and the Inter-ministerial Joint Working Group.

We are encouraged in particular by the growth in economic relations. 

As we work towards an ambitious target of five per cent growth by 2019 in South Africa, we believe we have laid a sound economic foundation, which makes our country ready to advance economic partnership with China in pursuit of inclusive growth and job creation. 

At the end of 2013, bilateral trade between our two countries exceeded 270 billion rand. 

China's investment into South Africa is cumulatively valued at approximately 120 billion rand, with over 100 state-owned entities and multinational companies investing in South Africa. 

We are also encouraged by the fact that South Africa's foreign direct investment outlook continues to be positive. 

Last year, 130 foreign companies entered South Africa for the first time or expanded their investments, contributing to total direct investment of 8.2 billion US dollars, which is double the figure for 2012. 

We have agreed that China would encourage buying missions to South Africa starting early in 2015, as part of promoting a balance in our trade relations.
Our discussions with President Xi indicated that we are of one mind on a number of issues and areas of cooperation.

We have also agreed to cooperate in a number of projects during this visit, taking forward our strong economic relations.

We are pleased that China is keen to share lessons and cooperate with us in the implementation of our ambitious blue economy programme, Operation Phakisa.

Operation Phakisa will initially be implemented in two sectors, the ocean economy and health, especially clinics. We chose the ocean economy with good reason. 

South Africa's coastline is approximately three thousand, nine-hundred and twenty four kilometres (3 924 km) long and is yet relatively unexplored in terms of its economic potential. 

In 2010 the oceans contributed approximately fifty four (54) billion rands to the economy and accounted for three-hundred and sixteen thousand (316,000) jobs. 

To tap into the ocean, Government has identified four priority sectors, in which to focus on. 

These are marine transport and manufacturing activities, such as coastal shipping, trans-shipment, boat building, repair and refurbishment, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture and marine protection services and ocean governance. 

It is estimated that the ocean has the potential to contribute approximately one hundred and seventy seven billion rand or 17 billion US dollars and create up to one million direct jobs. 

We look forward to working with you as business of China and South Africa, in moving Operation Phakisa forward.

South Africa also encourages further Chinese investment, especially in key areas like the beneficiation of mineral resources, improving industrial capacity, enhancing agro-processing as well as energy, in particular nuclear energy cooperation. 

We regard the memorandum of understanding on Cooperation between the China National Nuclear Corporation and the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), as a mechanism which will enhance the mutual exchange of information, best practices and lessons learnt in the nuclear energy sector which will also encourage and identify additional opportunities for cooperation. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

China has been South Africa's fourth largest source market for tourist arrivals for the second year in a row, growing by 14.7 per cent to reach one hundred and fifty one thousand, eight hundred and forty seven (151 847) tourist arrivals in 2013. 

We want to see tourism and people to people exchanges further expanding.
In order to make South Africa more attractive for foreign direct investment, we have launched a special economic zones programme, an area that China has many years of experience in. President Xi has indicated China's readiness to cooperate with us in this area. 

We have a package of support measures aimed at promoting industrialisation in general and the development of new industrial hubs. 

Our Department of Trade and Industry will provide information on this programme.

We have also agreed during the official talks, to improve cooperation in the financial sector, allowing easier access to each other's financial markets. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our government has developed a Ten-Year Innovation Plan spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology.

The Plan sets out long term goals. They include becoming one of the leading economies in the global pharmaceutical industry, based on the innovative use of South Africa's indigenous knowledge and rich biodiversity. 

They also include deploying satellites that provide a range of scientific, security and specialised services for all spheres of Government, the public and private sector. 

In this regard, we look forward to closely cooperate with China in the establishment of Science and Technology Parks in South Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We agreed on the establishment and operationalisation of the BRICS New Development Bank as soon as possible. 

South Africa is keen to ensure that the Bank's African Regional Centre provides further impetus to the strategic relationship that was forged between the BRICS and African leadership in 2013 in Durban, to enhance economic development for the continent.

We will cooperate with China to ensure that the Shanghai Headquarters and the African Regional Centre in South Africa are established as per agreed timelines. 

We have prioritised the ratification of the agreement establishing the Bank. South Africa has also instituted committees to make the African Regional Centre operational.

It should be noted that the New Development Bank comes to Africa an opportune moment. Africa is currently promoting regional integration and cross-border trade and investment.

Measures to promote industrialization and regional integration include the relaxation of customs and tax regulations that will assist with expediting and facilitating the movement of goods and services within the region. 

We are also developing infrastructure that connects our country to the rest of the Continent, as part of the African Union's Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative.

Ladies and gentlemen, while on this matter, allow me to express our gratitude to the Government of China for the role played in supporting Africa to combat the Ebola crisis through the provision of 129 million US dollars aid in support, including financial and human resources to fight this cruel epidemic. 

This means that China shares our view that Ebola is not an African problem but a global challenge that requires a serious response by the world at large.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that we welcome the government to government as well as private sector agreements entered into during this visit.

The conclusion of these agreements is directly linked to our collective objectives, as laid out in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which guides our bilateral engagements. 

The private sector agreements reflect progress in the drive to deliver on our mandate to eradicate unemployment and reduce poverty and inequality in South Africa.

Indeed our visit has been a huge success.

We look forward to seeing our friends from China in South Africa next year, during the Year of China in South Africa.

We look forward to receive and welcome more Chinese inward buying missions to South Africa next year as agreed between the two governments.

Currently, South Africa and the People's Republic of China co-chair the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). 

We therefore look forward to hosting the next FOCAC Summit in South Africa in December next year.

South Africa has a good story to tell of success since 1994, and the good and fruitful relations with China are part of that story.

I thank you.

Issued by Department of Communications on behalf of
The Presidency

05 December 2014

 

 

 

 

 

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