South Africa and China signed agreements worth R94 billion, shortly after Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived for a state visit in Pretoria, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.
“We focused especially on our economic and trade relations. We have just witnessed the signing of 26 agreements that are worth R94 billion. The volume of agreements indicates the amount of work that has been done in the past few months,” Zuma told reporters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria after concluding talks with the Chinese delegation led by Xi.
“We agreed that more could, and should be, done to increase our trade and investment figures.”
The two countries signed agreements in various sectors including a waiver of visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders, the establishment of a China Cultural Centre in South Africa and cooperation between South African and Chinese revenue and customs departments.
South African state owned enterprises including Eskom, Transnet, the Industrial Development Corporation, SA National Space Agency and the SA Nuclear Corporation also signed deals with Chinese institutions.
Zuma said Xi’s second state visit to Pretoria was very significant.
“It is a historic visit taking place on the eve of the first FOCAC (Forum for China-Africa Co-operation) summit in Africa. We are honoured to host this important event in South Africa,” said Zuma.
Xi said he was looking forward to the FOCAC summit in Johannesburg and strengthening relations between China and the whole Africa.
“This summit takes place on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the FOCAC and it is also the first FOCAC summit ever held on the African continent. It has milestone importance to the development of Africa-China relations and more balanced, inclusive and sustainable development of the world,” said the leader of the world’s most populous country.
“President Zuma and I look forward to renewing friendship with leaders of all other FOCAC members. We will discuss issues of importance to our development, map out new plans and inject new impetus for the future of China-Africa cooperation. It (FOCAC) will be a historic event. It will usher in a new era of China-Africa win-win cooperation for common development.”
Xi was welcomed on Wednesday afternoon with a 21-gun salute at the Union Buildings.
The FOCAC summit will be held on December 4 and 5.
Zuma and Xi took turns to introduce each other to their respective delegations, which included ministers from both countries.
Xi inspected a South African National Defence Force presidential guard of honour, before formal deliberations began behind closed doors.
Numerous Chinese news crews are accompanying Xi on his visit to Pretoria.
A statement by the international relations department this week said total trade between South Africa and China grew from R118 billion in 2009 to R271 billion by the end of 2013.
The FOCAC summit will be held under the theme “Africa-China Progressive Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development”.
Numerous African heads of state have confirmed attendance.
Jinping began his African tour with a visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday where he was welcomed by President Robert Mugabe with military pomp.