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S African president's trip to China boosts bilateral ties

Xinhua | Updated: 2014-12-04 09:22

JOHANNESBURG -- South African President Jacob Zuma's ongoing visit to China is strategic and crucial for both bilateral and trade relations between the two countries, an expert told Xinhua on Wednesday.

President Zuma arrived in China on Wednesday for his 4-day state visit, during which he will meet with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping.

"The meeting between the two leaders will bring trust and strengthen the relationship between the two countries," said South African economic and political analyst Zamikhaya Maseti.

"A strong relationship between the two states will boost their trade and bilateral relations," added Maseti, who is also the former Programmes Manager at the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

The South African government announced that Zuma's visit will seek for cooperation with China in agriculture, environmental affairs, trade and industry as well as finance.

Maseti said it is a vital trip for South Africa. "The visit is important and strategic. South Africa is the only country in BRICS with the lowest growth rate."

"The trip will give South Africa a chance to learn from China how to accelerate economic growth, while the business delegation accompanying Zuma will exchange notes with their Chinese counterparts on how to improve our country's economy," he said.

On the economic front, trade between South Africa and China grew from 11 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 to 24 billion dollars in 2013. China has also become South Africa's leading trading partner.

South African government also announced that a South Africa- China Business Forum will be held during Zuma's state visit to China.

Approximately 100 South African companies operating in sectors such as finance, infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, mining and capital equipment will participate, according to South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

"It is expected that approximately 150 Chinese enterprises will attend the business forum. The expectation is that numerous deals will be concluded as a result of the interaction," Davies said.

Maseti said that the business forum would provide South African companies with an opportunity to show case what the country offers.

"South Africa has a lot to offer to the international world. The country has vast mineral resources that are wanted by countries like China," said the expert.

"The forum will further give South African companies a chance to forge partnerships with those in China," added Maseti.

Maseti also noted that there is lot that China could do to assist South Africa's struggling economy.

Maseti said, "Our country is under economic constraints and there is hope that the visit will assist the struggling economy."

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana Mashabane said the two countries seek to build a mutual relationship of two partners with common interest.

The minister noted in a statement that "South Africa sees China as a key partner in the implementation of some of the infrastructure and development plans on the continent. China regards South Africa as a key partner in advancing its relations with the African continent."

"While the two countries are strikingly different in their cultural, political and social-economic orientation, they are very close in the positions they take on key issues affecting mankind," added Mashabane.

Maseti said, "The visit will place bilateral and trade relations on the right footing that will enable South Africa to walk in the footsteps of giants like China."

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