Pretoria – While consolidating the traditional areas of cooperation, South Africa and China are working towards a friendship that bears a win–win cooperation that turns development into a comprehensive national strength.
This as China has agreed to continue to play a pivotal role in South Africa’s re-industrialization and development agenda, as well as to continue to be a strategic partner for South Africa in the bilateral and multilateral arena.
China has also expressed the urgent need for South Africa to do more in industrial cooperation to boost Africa’s industrialization process, beneficiation of natural resources, health cooperation to build up Africa’s capacity for dealing with infectious diseases such as Ebola, as well as security cooperation to help Africa maintain peace and stability.
In turn South Africa emphasised the need for beneficiation, particularly from the mining and minerals industries, agro-processing; focus and exploration of the Blue Economy through Operation Phakisa; and value-addition through the manufacturing and services industries.
The two countries already enjoy a sound political and economic relationship and are working well as BRICS partners, the BASIC Group on Climate Change (Brazil, SA, India and China), the Group of 77 + China, the G20, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
China regards South Africa as a key partner in advancing its relations with the African continent with total two-way trade having reached R262 billion in 2014, while South Africa’s imports to China amounted to R167 billion in the same year.
The two governments are working together to address the negative trade deficit and ultimately attain a more equitable and mutual trade balance.
This emerged after the meeting held in Pretoria between International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi today which reviewed and tracked progress on the bilateral relations.
The meeting follows President Jacob Zuma’s 2014 State visit to China which saw the signing of the 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation – which entrenches the implementation of agreements entered into since the conclusion of the Beijing Declaration in 2010 and it expands on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
Forum on China-Africa Cooperation
The two Ministers used their meeting to look into the preparations for the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), scheduled to take place in South Africa later this year. The two countries are also co-Chairs of FOCAC.
FOCAC will review the implementation of tasks set in the last meeting in 2009, explore new ways to deepen China-Africa relations and improve the forum’s mechanism.
The meeting is also expected to forge a new cooperation plan for the coming three years and exchange views on major international and regional issues.
“China is willing to transform the traditional friendship between China and South Africa – and Africa as a whole -into impetus for common development, and to work with African countries to convert their potential in human and natural resources into economic strengths,” said Wang in a joint press briefing after their talks when asked about China’s aspirations for the forum.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated this, saying the FOCAC is a reconfirmation and a rededication for win-win cooperation between the continent and China.
“This is a reconfirmation that China‘s cooperation with our continent is about mutual respect and about how to continue to respond to what Africans say and how they become their own liberators. This is about unleashing the potential of the African people. It is about advancement of provision of African solutions to African problems be it political or economic socioeconomic,” she said.
BRICS New Development Bank
The two ministers also reviewed the progress into the establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank to be headquartered in Shanghai, with its African Regional Centre in Johannesburg.
Asked about the progress of the bank from South Africa’s side, Minister Nkoana Mashabane said South Africa is in the final stages of rectification of the establishment of regional centre of the bank.
“We are at the advanced stage of the currency swap mechanism,” she said, adding that through Cabinet – they still have to select and appoint the vice president which will rotate chairpersonship with four other member countries.
Cabinet has already approved the tabling in Parliament for ratification the treaty establishing the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) and agreement on the New Development Bank.
The five members of the group – BRICS – laid out the designs of the bank and the CRA in a declaration released following their sixth summit.
The bank will have a starting authorised capital of US$100 billion, of which US$50 billion will be pledged.
At the summit, the leaders agreed on plans for the CRA. At its core, the CRA is a pledge to help one another in times of financial crisis.
Each country will achieve this by together pledging a total of US$100 billion to a common pool – with China contributing the most (US$41 billion), Brazil, Russia and India contributing US$18 billion each, and South Africa contributing US$5 billion.
These pledges will not be physically put aside, but will be made available in times of crisis.
Both Minister Nkoana Mashabene and Wang described their meeting as “productive and reached consensus” and also touched on the global and multilateral issues- such as the 70th anniversary of the UN in which they agreed to continue to push for the needs of the developing countries.