KZN courts China investors

2008-07-09 00:00

Chinese business leaders and provincial government officials met in Durban yesterday with a view to cementing ties and initiating discussions on business ventures in agriculture, manufacturing and information technology, in the hope of diverting China’s massive investment in Africa to KwaZulu-Natal.

The SA/China business seminar, hosted by Trade and Investment KZN and acting Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize, was aimed at celebrating relations with the Asian superpower. The high-level gathering was attended by, among others, China’s Durban consul-general, Liu Yantao.

Mkhize, who is also Finance and Economic Development MEC, said there is already the possibility of a joint partnership aimed at manufacturing solar panels in KZN.

He stressed that KZN continues to boast a large manufacturing sector.

Liu called for the establishment of a chamber of commerce linked to China in KZN.

He also said KZN has a natural advantage in marine transportation in relation to both Durban and Richards Bay.

“As far as I know, several Chinese businesspeople have already got involved in this area. There is also great room for co-operation on infrastructure construction.”

He emphasised the importance of creating “win-win” economic partnerships, adding that Chinese businesses already employ many local people. He said investing and setting up businesses in South Africa is part of a wider strategic partnership between the two countries.

Liu also made reference to the recent high court ruling that South Africans of Chinese descent be defined as black for the purposes of employment equity and broad-based black economic empowerment.

“This ruling shows the principle of ethnic equality and harmonious reconciliation [and] greatly encourages Chinese business people and will promote Chinese people to contribute to economic development,” said Liu.

Noting that many potential investors are concerned about the high crime rate, the community safety and liaison department emphasised that it had recently launched a volunteer social crime prevention programme.

kavith@witness.co.za

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