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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

China in deals worth R41 billion to import SA food produce

South Africa and China solidify trade relations with $2.2 billion worth of deals, spanning minerals, agriculture, and potential energy collaboration, ahead of the Brics summit.

The deepening of trade relations between South Africa and China took another turn yesterday, with 36 companies from respective countries having signed deals worth $2.2 billion (about R41 billion) – ahead of the 15th Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit this month in Sandton.

Most of the deals signed during the SA-China inward trade meeting in Johannesburg – witnessed by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao – involved minerals and agriculture.

But Patel was also upbeat about tapping into Chinese expertise to assist SA address its energy crisis.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Patel said: “During discussions with Wang, we spoke about South Africa’s energy challenges, with China pointing to some potential it has available.

“This is in the area of building power stations. We set out to him our regulatory framework – highlighting a scope for a strong partnership in energy and some practical steps already taken.

“Agricultural deals signed will help in rural development and absorbing more people into employment. This is part of a large shift in our trading relations towards more value addition – not just an extraction of minerals, but manufactured products,” Patel said.

“The inclusion of wool in boosting the textile industry will now see us moving to the manufacturing of value-added products.

“The various agreements signed between SA and Chinese enterprises are agreements between local private sector firms and Chinese companies. They include significant mineral, large agricultural, wool and related products. We have for years been trying to break into the Chinese market for our food products.

“We have huge quantities of products we have been selling elsewhere in the world and China has now become a growing market for SA fruits, vegetables and various meats,” Patel said.

“We have been tying up those agreements into contracts, with a mission to get processed products sourced from SA.

In addition, we are encouraging the Chinese to see SA as a tourism market.” In 11 days, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be on an official visit to SA.

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BRICS China Ebrahim Patel