SA, China sign agreements

By Drum Digital
26 March 2013

South Africa and China have signed the terms of reference of a joint inter-ministerial working group to strengthen co-operation, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

"This working group will monitor the implementation of co-operative projects so that we are able to join hands in a meaningful way as we go forward," Zuma said at a news briefing with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Pretoria.

The group comprised cabinet ministers from both countries and would seek to strengthen and oversee the implementation of bilateral agreements.

A number of agreements were also signed ahead of Zuma's address. These were in the fields of education, science, energy, customs, investment, ocean and coastal management, trade and financial services.

China is South Africa's biggest trading partner and a significant investor in the South African economy. In 2012, exports from South Africa to China amounted to R89 billion, while imports from China to South Africa totalled R112bn. Total trade between the two countries stood at R201bn.

Zuma said: "What we now seek to address jointly is to find the means towards a more equitable balance of trade. The ongoing co-operation among the business sector in both countries is a step in the right direction in this regard."

Jinping told reporters the people of China and South Africa enjoyed a profound traditional relationship.

"Just now President Zuma and I held productive talks and we witnessed the signing of agreements between our relevant government departments and enterprises. In our talks just now we both reviewed and commended the fruitful results that we have achieved in the last 15 years of our diplomatic relations."

He said they also discussed relations between China and Africa, the fifth Brics summit, and international and regional issues of mutual interest.

Jinping's visit to South Africa marked 15 years since formal diplomatic relations between the two countries were established. He will be joining other heads of state from the Brics group of countries and other African leaders at the fifth Brics summit beginning in Durban later on Tuesday.

Brics is a group of developing countries made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Among the most anticipated outcomes of the summit was the formation of the Brics development bank. It would fund development projects within the member countries and other developing nations.

In his closing remarks, Zuma said the Brics summit would positively influence the work of the G20 and other multilateral efforts.

-by Sapa

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