From left, Ina Cronjé, TIKZN Board Chairperson; Wan Jiangpin, Vice Chairperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Sihle Zikalala, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN - A delegation of government officials and business representatives from the Hubei province in China were welcomed to Durban yesterday.

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of SA-China diplomatic relations this year, a seminar to cement partnerships and accelerate trade and investment between the countries took place in Durban yesterday.  

This initiative was led by Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) saw

Creating linkages for partnerships and joint ventures to promote trade and investment was the primary focus of the seminar. The delegation will view strategic developments in the province this week.

"KZN is serious about doing business with China and today’s seminar is testament to this. Our two countries have strong business and political ties. Two successful companies from Hubei are already operating in KZN with this footprint and many more will follow," said Ina Cronjé, TIKZN Board Chairperson. 

In September 2018, President Xi Jinping announced at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that the People’s Republic of China will invest $60 billion in Africa.

EDTEA MEC Sihle Zikalala said, "China remains South Africa’s largest trade partner with a healthy export and import balance between the two nations". 

Zikalala added that it was government’s duty to construct conducive conditions for business to thrive, to create policy certainty, and to support collaborations between businesses of the respective countries. 

"KZN is open for business. Come partners with us. Your investments are safe with us," said Zikalala. 

The CCPIT comprises enterprises and organizations representing the economic and trade sectors in China and the targeted sectors in this mission include forestry and agriculture, manufacturing, mining, pharmaceutical, construction, metals and machinery, medical, plastics and technology.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Musa Makhunga, said, "This China-South Africa relation is built on a framework of three major platforms, namely the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), BRICS, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which South Africa has established itself as both a major contributor and the biggest beneficiary across the continent". 

Wan Jiangping, Vice Chairman of Committee of People's Politic Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Jingzhou City, Hubei province said: “China and South Africa are important trade partners to each other. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached US$ 39.17 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11.7%.

Jiangping added that the investment mode has expanded from the traditional green field investment to equity acquisition. Meanwhile, South Africa has most FDI in China among African countries, surpassing $700 million.

The delegation was locked in discussions for the second half of the programme which included a business-to-business session.