Chinese ambassador sets out five areas of cooperation at Jobs Fair

Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong at the Job Fair on Thursday. Photo: Chinese Embassy

Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong at the Job Fair on Thursday. Photo: Chinese Embassy

Published Apr 16, 2022


By Helmo Preuss

At the Jobs Fair organised by the South Africa-China Economy and Trade Association (SACETA) on 14th April at the Gallagher Conference Center in Midrand, Johannesburg, Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong set out five areas of cooperation between South Africa and China even though the two countries are physically far apart, the traditional friendship between the two members of the BRICS has been strong for a long time.

“We are ready to seek mutual benefit and work for greater quality, broader fields and higher levels in our cooperation,” Chen said.

The first area of mutual benefit is to deepen economic, trade and investment cooperation between China and South Africa.

This is reflected in the fact that China has become an important export market for South Africa's beef, citrus, wine, oysters, Rooibos tea and many other products and this will be expanded further so that in the next three years, China will import US$ 100 billion worth of goods from South Africa from US$ 33.23 billion in 2021, which was a 59.6% jump on 2020.

“We will continue to encourage strong Chinese enterprises to invest in South Africa for achieving President Ramaphosa’s investment proposals,” Chen said.

The second area is cooperation on major projects.

The framework for this is the Ten-Year Strategic Cooperation Program, which has just been signed.

“We will also work to deliver the nine programs announced at last year’s FOCAC meeting, and deepen all cooperation under BRICS. China is actively working on feasibility studies of the small harbour project. We support Chinese enterprises to take part in the Mzimvubu river project and to provide financing support. We will also continue to connect with South Africa on major projects such as the Johannesburg-Durban high-speed rail,” Chen noted.

The third area is to expand cooperation in emerging areas.

China and South Africa can focus on cooperation in 5G, digital economy, high-tech, e-commerce, smart cities, clean energy, vaccine production and other new areas.

The fourth area is to increase cooperation in employment training.

In order to achieve this, China is ready to speed up the building of vocational training center projects, as well employment assistance programs for college graduates and other special groups.

The fifth area of cooperation is to expand people-to-people exchanges.

Ambassador Chen noted that South Africa has more sister province and city relationships with Chinese localities than any other African country, while also hosting the largest number of Chinese students in all of Africa and attracting the biggest number of Chinese tourists among all sub-Saharan countries.

“It is my belief that our cooperation in tourism, education, culture and local exchanges will see a good rebound post-COVID. This will give a boost to many businesses in South Africa,” Chen concluded.

Apart from the trade flows, China is also a significant investor in South Africa. These investments help to create jobs, which is what the Jobs Fair is all about. South Africa is one of the largest investment destinations for Chinese companies in Africa. At the end of 2021, China’s investment in South Africa exceeded $25 billion in cumulative terms. To date, more than 200 Chinese enterprises have invested in South Africa in areas as energy, finance, mining, home appliances, communications, automobiles, construction machinery, real estate, textile and clothing, logistics, creating more than 400,000 jobs for South Africans and making positive contributions to the economic and social development of South Africa.

At the Fourth South African Investment Conference held on 24 March in Johannesburg, a total of 12 Chinese enterprises in South Africa were there in person, and more than 80 Chinese enterprises participated online. This will mean that Chinese companies will create some 20 000 jobs in South Africa over the next three years.

Minister of Employment and Labour Thembelani Nxesi in his response at the Jobs Fair welcomed China’s bonds of friendship and cooperation.

“Ever since South Africa and China formalised the bilateral relationship in 1998, cooperation between ourselves has gone from strength to strength. The strong ties are not just political but are also social and economic. China now enjoys a reputation as Africa’s largest foreign investor – and South Africa continues to claim a large chunk of the inward investment from China,” Nxesi said.

Helmo Preuss is an Economist at Forecaster Ecosa


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