Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Ebrahim Patel during the signing ceremony. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel on Friday said the signing of at least 90 trade deals between South African and Chinese entities, which took place only a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his state-of-the-nation address (SONA) was a realisation of Pretoria's economic ambitions.

"What happened today was, a buying mission from China came to South Africa and engaged over a number of months, they have been talking to South African suppliers. The suppliers cover many different sectors of the economy. Today they have signed contracts to buy South African goods that will be exported to China. This represents for us, a critical part of our trade relationship," Patel said at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

"Some 93 agreements were signed today [Friday]. The estimated contract value of these agreements is about R27 billion. In addition to that, one of the agreements signed was an investment agreement that covers the Beijing Auto Industrial Cooperation's investment in the auto-manufacturing plant in the industrial development zone of Coega. It's an investment to build vehicles in South Africa for the South African market but also for markets elsewhere in the world including the rest of the African continent and beyond."

Patel said the trade deals signed on Friday were part of commitments which came out of the existing comprehensive strategic partnership agreement of 2010, and the eight major commitments made at the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (Focac).

"We have seen here today an example of us deepening our trade and investment relationship. For the South African government, the significance of this is that it is one day after the State of the Nation Address, it is early in the start of a new administration and it sets the tone of how we seek to work differently, in practical, action-oriented [ways] of getting things done while involving the private sector," said the former economic development minister.

He said the bulk of the deals were signed on Friday by private sector companies. 

"That is the tone we want to set. We are very serious about industrialising South Africa and creating more jobs," said Patel.

The high-level Chinese delegation advancing business interests is led by Ren Hongbin, Assistant Minister of Commerce in China. The delegation is supported by Ambassador Lin Songtian. Several South African Cabinet Ministers including International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor and Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

African News Agency (ANA)