President Cyril Ramaphosa and China’s President Xi Jinping walk after reviewing the honour guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS/African News Agency (ANA)
South Africa is open for business. This was the central message delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on his state visit to the People’s Republic of China yesterday as part of his investment drive.

Addressing the Team South Africa business breakfast, Ramaphosa assured investors that South Africa was working on the important issue of policy certainty and consistency.

“In the past few years we lost our shine, but we are getting it back,” Ramaphosa said.

“We are recalibrating our country, and taking measures to address the malady of corruption in our state-owned enterprises.”

He was quick to assure his Chinese hosts that South Africa would surprise the world by resolving its land problem.

“The debate around the land issue is raging, but the fear propagated is subsiding, and we will ensure that all people enjoy the right to property,” Ramaphosa said.

President Xi Jinping emphasised during his state visit to South Africa in July that the country needed stability. In light of the recent inflammatory Twitter remarks of President Donald Trump regarding South Africa’s land issues, Ramaphosa was at pains to reiterate that the government would ensure food security and enhance agricultural production.

He added that South Africa needed to capitalise on market access to balance its trade deficit with China.

“We are exporting more commodities to China, while it is exporting more value-added goods to South Africa.”

But he also noted that China was welcoming more value-added goods from South Africa to China.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene praised China’s agreement to send more buying missions to South Africa.

Ramaphosa laid a wreath at the Monument of the People’s Heroes in Tiananmen Square prior to meeting with Chinese Premier Li Kequiang.

The highlight of the one-day state visit was the grand welcoming ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where Ramaphosa and Xi inspected a guard of honour and were greeted by throngs of flag-waving and colourfully dressed Chinese children.

Twelve South African government ministers accompanied Ramaphosa on the visit.

Xi began the bilateral meeting between the Chinese and South African delegations by congratulating South Africa on the successful BRICS Summit, and stating that the state visit would add new momentum to relations between the two countries.

Ramaphosa noted that it was his first visit to China as president, and pledged to deepen trust between the two countries and increase the number of high-level exchanges.

The delegations signed a number of agreements at the bilateral meeting.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies signed an agreement on increased production capacity; Minister for the Environment Edna Molewa on co-operation on climate change; Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande on transport-related issues; Minister of Water Affairs Gugile Nkwinti on water resources; and Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor on implementing a vocational training centre in South Africa.