Media Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, following Bilateral Consultations with Mr Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of The People’s Republic of China, 14 April 2015, Pretoria
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media;
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors;
All senior officials present;
Let me take this opportunity to once again welcome our guest, His Excellency Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, and his delegation to South Africa.
Our meeting today follows the State Visit of His Excellency President Jacob Zuma to the People's Republic of China in December 2014 and is in advance of the following:
- The BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia;
- The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC); and
- The Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group (JWG) which will be held on the margins of the FOCAC during the latter part of 2015.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China in 1998, the bilateral relationship strengthened and progressed through the following instruments:
- The signing of the establishment of a Bi-National Commission in 2001;
- The elevation of bilateral relations to a Strategic Partnership in 2004;
- The signing of a Programme for Deepening Strategic Partnership in 2006; and
- The signing of the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2010.
Our bilateral relations are facilitated and guided broadly through the following mechanisms:
- The Beijing Declaration Establishing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership;
- The Bi-National Commission;
- The Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Cooperation (JWG);
- The Strategic Dialogue Mechanism; and
- The 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation signed in 2014, which serves as an overall implementation plan with respect to all existing agreements and frameworks.
With regard to trade relations between our two countries, these continue to grow from strength to strength; symbolised by the South African trade exports to China in 2014, which amounted to about R94bn, while South African imports from China in 2014 amounted to about R167bn. Total trade between South Africa and China in 2014 amounted to R262bn, with a trade deficit of negative R73bn for South Africa.
Our two Governments are working very hard together to address the negative trade deficit and to ultimately attain a more equitable and mutual trade balance that will be beneficial for further development of two countries.
The Joint Working Group (JWG) held at a Ministerial level was established as primary mechanism to identify challenges and obstacles that could hinder developmental progress and implementation of objectives. Furthermore, it was also established as an avenue for South Africa to find innovative solutions towards addressing the trade deficit.
South Africa imports the following commodities from China: machinery; textiles; iron and steel; chemicals; toys and sports apparel. On the contrary, South Africa exports the following commodities to China: mineral products; iron and steel; wood pulp and paper; precious metals; and textiles. Therefore, South Africa will continue place emphasis on the need for beneficiation, particularly from our mining and minerals industries, agro-processing; focus and exploration of the Blue Economy through Operation Phakisa; and value-addition through the manufacturing and services industries.
China will continue to play a pivotal role in South Africa’s re-industrialisation and developmental agenda going forward; and continue to be a Strategic Partner for South Africa on a Bilateral and Multilateral arena.
We share membership of, and participate as partners on numerous international bodies, including the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA), the BASIC Group on Climate Change (Brazil, SA, India and China), the Group of 77 + China and the G20. We are also Co-Chairs of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Our discussions today were focussed on the implementation of the 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation as agreed to in Beijing during President Zuma’s State Visit.
We also discussed specific areas of economic cooperation that have been prioritised in terms of the 2nd Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group (JWG).
In preparation for the FOCAC, you may be aware that our current task is to remain focused on ensuring that the resolutions of the Senior Officials’ Meeting of December 2014 are implemented in preparation for the High Level meeting later this year.
In terms of our cooperation, we noted that this year marks 60 years of the Bandung Summit and the birth of Africa-Asia Solidarity of which China-Africa relations has been among most productive and comprehensive. Our agenda is clear, as it is to be expected, considering our mutual focus in terms of issues relating to global politics, economics, financial architecture and to also articulate interests of the Global South.
Our meeting today also comes at an opportune time when there is a convergence of views on global and multilateral issues. We noted the 70th anniversary of the UN and expressed our commitment to deepen multilateralism and the global agenda of development, peace and security.
In addition, we discussed the preparation for the establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank, as well as the Africa Regional Centre and we are satisfied with the various stages of preparation.
We agreed that the regular exchange of views is necessary so that we can coordinate on positions whenever possible within multilateral, regional and global platforms.
May I, on behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of South Africa, extend our congratulations to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for having launched the 2015 Year of China in South Africa with great enthusiasm.
We look forward to 2015 being the year in which we further our relations and deepen cooperation.
Ladies and Gentleman, I would now like to invite Minister Wang to address the media.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
O.R. Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road