Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has encouraged the Chinese government and its business community to support South African SMMEs through joint ventures and skills transfers.
She said SMEs in China were an important driver of economic growth and development in the country, and called on Chinese companies to take advantage of South Africa’s position in Africa as the entry point for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Ndabeni-Abraham made the remarks during a celebration of the Chinese National Day. She was joined by other high-profile ministers at the Chinese Embassy in Tshwane.
According to Ndabeni-Abrahams, the trade deficit between the two countries has been on a downward trend following the Covid-19 pandemic. However, while the total volume of trade was R544 billion last year, it remained strongly in favour of China.
The minister said more needed to be done to address the trade gap.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said that investment opportunities created by South African companies would drive economic cohesion between the two nations, as well as bring the diverse cultures of the two countries together.
“South Africa hopes to see more Chinese companies investing in the South African economy, especially with a view to boosting our local manufacturing and industrialisation efforts,” she said.
Ndabeni-Abrahams also touched on the South Africa-China Economic & Trade Association’s Jobs Fair which was hosted in April this year.
The fair resulted in 1000 youths being offered employment opportunities in various sectors.
It also saw over 100 Chinese-invested enterprises commit themselves to creating 20,000 jobs directly for South Africans in the next three years.
Ndabeni-Abrahams urged the Chinese business community and government to recognise the benefits of using South Africa as an entry point to access the larger African market through the AfCFTA.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area provides for improved competitiveness, and enhanced regulatory harmonisation towards greater economic integration of the continent,” she said.
“South Africa remains a gateway to the continent, and has the infrastructure and other services required to support manufacturing and corporate investment both domestically and the rest of Africa.”