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South Africa, China lift ties to a new level

South Africa and China have entered into several agreements that will enable economic growth and educational opportunities, the Presidency said on Monday.

One agreement signed during the state visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa – on investment and trade promotion between the two countries – carries a monetary value of approximately R14 billion.

The state visit took place in Beijing on Sunday, at the invitation of the President Xi Jinping ahead of the two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit. FOCAC kicks off today in the Chinese capital.

The two Presidents witnessed the signing of various Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) and agreements at a ceremony held at the Great Hall.

“The agreements signed include commitments on cooperation in the fields of climate change, water resources, transported related infrastructure and refurbishments to a number of technical and vocational training (TVET) colleges,” the Presidency said.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) exchanged letters of commitment with the Chinese Embassy on the upgrading and refurbishment of Tshwane North and the Tshwane South TVET Colleges. This will entail the construction of student support centres, teaching buildings, workshops, a multipurpose indoor facility and an enclosing wall.

Furthermore, an MoU between the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China to cooperate on international investment promotion for South Africa’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and industrial parks.

Projects within the Musina-Makhado SEZ – a 4600MW coal-fired plant, a cement plant and other metallurgical projects – have been prioritised for implementation.

“The projects will see the investment, planning, constructing and operation of coking, ferromanganese, ferrochromium, silico-manganese, stainless steel, supporting administrative service centre and living areas, highways and a shipping integrated logistics centre among others.”

The two Presidents also witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Bank of China on promoting trade and investment relations.

This will include capacity and institution building and investment facilitation. This project has a monetary value of US$1.1 billion.

Most of the agreements are aligned to the commitments made during the FOCAC Summit held in Johannesburg in December 2015.

President Ramaphosa said South Africa is willing to learn from China’s valuable experience in areas including ruling party building and corporate management, and will actively participate in the Belt and Road cooperation.

The President called for concerted efforts in upholding the multilateralism and international trading regime and safeguarding the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries.

As such he called on South African companies to work in partnership, consolidate South African interests on the African continent and to collaborate with China on projects in line with South Africa’s development and integration objectives.

“At the centre of our engagement with China is the task of creating jobs for South Africans,” said President Ramaphosa.

“We have made great progress but there is huge potential that remains untapped.”

Furthermore, President Ramaphosa called for the both countries to the pace of investment in infrastructure and industrial capacity which must also place the people at the centre.

“As we promote science, technology, innovation, engineering and mathematics, we must maintain a people-centred approach. When we create jobs, it must be decent jobs to give our people dignity and a rising standard of living,” the President added.

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