South Africa and China signed new strategic agreements after a meeting between President Jacob Zuma and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, the Presidency said in a statement on Thursday.
The agreements aim to strengthen bilateral relations, trade co-operation and create sustainable investment opportunities between the two countries.
Zuma arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for a short state visit to China at Xi’s invitation.
One of the agreements was a five- to 10-year strategic programme on co-operation, which focuses on bilateral co-operation including “political mutual trust and strategic co- ordination” as well as co-operation in economic, international and Brics-related affairs.
Steps to improve co-operation in trade and investment to help realise growth of two- way trade in a balanced way were also agreed on.
“We need to improve co-operation in the financial sector, allowing easier access to each other’s financial markets,” Zuma said.
Also signed was an action plan on agriculture co-operation, including protocols of phytosanitory requirements (control of plant diseases for maize and apples exported from South Africa to China; and dates exported from China to South Africa).
The signing of the agriculture-related agreements was “affirmation that both countries stand ready to strengthen personnel and technology exchanges as well as promote agricultural capacity building through exchanging delegations”, the Presidency said.
The agreements would help improve agricultural capacity of both countries as well strengthen the relationships between research institutes, universities and colleges, as would the hosting of technology and management workshops and the exchange of experts.
Zuma said the signed agreements affirmed the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which was signed in 2010 and will further enhance the strategic relations that the two countries enjoy.
“We will also look at ways of enhancing co-operation in various sectors such as finance, the environment – including co-operation in the Ocean Economy – trade and investment, as well as transport and agriculture,” Zuma said.
Xi said the two sides should maintain the momentum of high-level interactions and increase exchanges on legislation, justice, defence and State governance.
Zuma said South Africa hoped to learn from China’s experience and welcomed Chinese investments, including those in South Africa’s infrastructure, special economic zones, industrial parks and maritime economy.
Xi also said China will work together with South Africa to promote peace, stability and development in Africa.
China was willing to support South Africa’s push to establish an African stand-by force and would work with the international community, including South Africa, to help West African countries in the fight against the Ebola epidemic, Xi said.
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