Pretoria - South Africa and China have signed several agreements, including memorandums of understanding on investment amounting to US$14.7 billion.
Speaking soon after the signing at the Union Buildings in the capital Pretoria on Tuesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the agreements will further strengthen the already flourishing trade relations between the two countries.
“We have signed several agreements and memorandums of understanding that are intended to further deepen our relations, including investment commitments that have been struck to the value of US$14.7 billion,” said President Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa added that various government departments signed agreements with the Chinese government.
He said the deals include the simplification of visas, state-owned enterprises as well as private sector companies.
“President Xi indicated that China is ready to invest and to work with South Africa in various sectors such as infrastructure, ocean economy, green economy, science and technology, agriculture, environment, as well as finance,” he said.
Though detail regarding the agreements is still scant, it has been confirmed that Eskom and Transnet as well as private sector companies, Standard Bank and Naspers, sealed deals with China.
The agreements were signed as President Ramaphosa hosted the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, who was on a state visit to South Africa ahead of the BRICS Summit held from 25 to 27 July in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Ramaphosa said though trade figures had grown steadily over the past two years, bilateral trade had not reached its full potential.
He said avenues were being explored for increasing trade and identifying sectors for future investment and promoting tourism between the two countries.
South Africa is China’s biggest trade partner within the African continent while China is South Africa’s biggest trade partner globally.
Changes to SA/China visa requirements
Both presidents confirmed that travel restrictions will be relaxed, with the loosening of visa requirements. Citizens travelling between both countries for the purpose of business will stand to benefit the most from the revised visa regulations.
China also signed a loan agreement with national power supplier, Eskom, for the construction or management of unnamed facilities, to the value of R33 billion.
Transnet secures loan from Chinese bank
No exact figure has been released relating to the loan secured by Transnet via a Chinese bank. The deal could help the embattled South African rail, port and pipeline company out of its crippling financial status.