Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has raised sin taxes steeply, hiking the duties on alcohol and cigarettes. File picture: Regis Duvignau, Reuters

Cape Town - A delegation from the Western Cape government, led by Premier Helen Zille, is visiting two big international food and wine shows this week in Shanghai to explore trade, tourism and investment opportunities for South African exporters.

Even as China’s industrial engine slows, the people’s appetite for exotic food and beverages grows. South African food and wine producers are already laying out a fine spread at Food and Hotel China (FHC 2015), the 19th edition of China’s global food and hospitality trade show, and ProWine China 2015, the third international trade fair for wine and spirits. The two expos are running in neighbouring halls at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre from Wednesday 11 to Friday November 12.

The Western Cape’s international relations strategy prioritises countries in the rest of Africa and the Brics group, and the stated aim is to create an enabling environment for trade and tourism and to attract investment in order to stimulate economic growth. On a provincial level, strategy focuses on tourism and agri-processing among other things. In line with these international and provincial strategies, the Western Cape government is supporting 38 agri-businesses that are participating in the FHC; ProWine China events.

South African wines have been a particular success in China this year with commentators describing the country’s wines as the surprise of the year. Chinese customs statistics for the first half of 2015 showed that South Africa doubled its market share from 2-4 percent in volume terms.

China is currently South Africa’s 6th largest export market for packaged wines by volume, and the largest in the Asian region, accounting for around 8.99 million litres for the year ending September 2015.

All around 2015 has been an exceptional year for South Africa, with an early but excellent quality grape harvest and continued export growth. Add to this positive feedback from leading international wine critics including Jancis Robinson, Tim Atkin and Neal Martin, and you have what one might call an easy sell.

In the words of Neal Martin: “South Africa is the most dynamic and exciting New World country at the moment.”