Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina on the occasion of the Opening of the 5th China-Africa Business Forum Held During the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Sandton International Convention Centre

Mr Qian Keming, Deputy Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce
Mr Chen Zhaoxiong, Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corpes
Esteemed Leaders of the Business Communities, from Peoples Republic of China,and the African Continent
Senior Officials from China and the African continent
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure as the Co-Chair of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to open this momentous Business Forum on African soilembracing the theme “China-Africa: Cooperation for Common Development-Catapulting the African Industrialization Renaissance.
Distinguished Guests, this Business Forum serves to advance the vision of our leaders of strengthening cooperation between China and African States to jointly meet the challenges of economic globalization and to further our common developmental objectives as they relate to poverty alleviation and economic transformation.

It is against the backdrop of previous FOCAC engagements and its deliverables, as well as the continent’s own Agenda 2063 initiative that we are meeting today as the 5th China-Africa Business Forum. The China-Africa Business Forum has always served as an integral part of previous FOCAC programmes and this time is no exception with the hosting of the Johannesburg Summit. On the contrary, it will only be the second time that captains of industry will have the opportunity to engage with the collective Heads of State and Government of Africa and the People’s Republic of China.

FOCAC though has not just been a “talk-shop”, but through its 5 Ministerial Conferences and the Beijing Summit have delivered tangible results, including in the areas of trade and investment. Since FOCAC’s inception, trade between China and Africa has grown from US$ 10.6 billion in 2000 to US$ 201.1 billion in 2014, with trade anticipated to reach US$300 billion during 2015. In 2009 China became Africa’s largest trading partner also serving as a major investor. In addition, the World Resource Institute in 2014 projected that between 2014 and 2020, trade between China and Africa will double and Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) stock to the continent will quadruple to US $100 billion.

Africa has enjoyed a long standing and shared positive history with China. This shared history and indeed shared vision amongst us holds significant promise for the future. Our countries are major players in the global economy and share a common vision of shaping the developing economies and the world at large. Addressing the demands of both today and tomorrow requires the type of unity of purpose that has united us from a bilateral perspective as well as within the FOCAC context.

We applaud China’s economic ascendance which has now placed it on the global economic stage as thesecond largest economy, and third largest outbound investor. The World Bank estimates that it has lifted 500 million people out of poverty and that all Millennium Development Goals have been met, or are in reach of being met.I am of the firm belief that there are many invaluable lessons that Africa can learn from China’s impressive growth model which has been spurred by its burgeoning middle class with rising incomes and purchasing power. In this regard, China as a country of the South, has not only valuable experience in terms of its own development undertakings which could serve as an example to us , but importantly has itself become an agent of change with the capacity and resources to serve as a catalyst for development in other markets. As a result, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, through its 15 years of successive events which are held every three years, has developed a dialogue platform for co-operation which has particular resonance for Africa.

Within the African context, much of our growth has emanated from demand characterized not only by natural resource-extractive commodities but also by diversified, non-traditional African exports such as processed commodities, light manufactured products, household consumer goods, food and tourism. Africa is the second fastest growing region in the world and continent with the largest number of developing countries.In the past decade it has grown at a rate of 2-3 percentage points faster than the global GDP, with regional growth predicted to remain stable above 5% in 2015, supported by increasing foreign direct investment flows, public investment in infrastructure and higher agricultural production. In addition to this,Africa’s working age population is expected to double to 1 billion in the next 25 years, surpassing both China and India.

That said, for many on the continent poverty remains a reality which they face every day. In 2013,at the Golden Jubilee of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)/African Union (AU), a re-dedication was made to the attainment of the Pan African Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

In order to translate this vision into concrete objectives and actions, the Agenda 2063 Framework Document was adopted by the AU Summit in January 2015, with it serving as the basis for Africa’s long term socio-economic and integrative transformation.

The first of seven aspirations of Agenda 2063 is a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. It envisages shared prosperity which is built through social and economic transformation of the continent through manufacturing, value addition and science and technology-driven innovation. It also identifies the blue/ocean economy as a major contributor to continental transformation and accelerated economic growth, while its vision of Africa’s agriculture is that if being modern and productive, using science, technology, innovation and indigenous knowledge.

The second aspiration focuses on an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance. It asserts thatAfrica shall have world class, integrative infrastructure that criss-crosses the continent; a dynamic and mutually beneficial links with her Diaspora; and shall be a continent of seamless borders, and management of cross-border resources through dialogue.

In order to take these seven aspirations forward, the AU directed the African Union Commission to prepare the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 for the period 2013 – 2023. This plan, the first in a series of five ten year plans over the fifty year horizon, was adopted by the AU Summit in June 2015 as a basis for the preparation of medium term development plans of member states of the Union, the Regional Economic Communities and the AU Organs.

In line with the First Ten Year Implementation Plan,the AU Assembly launched the. Tripartite FTA (T-FTA) which is an agreement between the Heads of States of 26 African countries to establish a free trade area (FTA) now referred to as the Tripartite FTA (T-FTA). This initiative will expand intra-African trade, promote collaboration between the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and facilitate joint resource mobilisation and project implementation. To place the significance of the T-FTA into perspective Ladies and Gentlemen, it provides you the Captains of Industry an integrated market with a combined population of 600 million people (only China and India have larger populations), a total GDP of US$1trillion (which would put it on a par with Mexico and South Korea, the largest rapid-growth economies after the BRICS), and a long-term GDP growth rate in excess of 5%. Further to this, the recent launch of the negotiations of the Continental Free Trade Agreement at the African Union Summit in South Africa, once established offers you our Japanese friends a market of over 1 billion people and a GDP of $ 2 trillion; a formidable market that simply cannot be overlooked.

As we move towards a larger and more integrated market, there is equally the need for adequate, effective, affordable and well-maintained infrastructure to support economic growth, attract investment and enhance service delivery. In this regard, currently there is an intensive work programme for infrastructure development across the continent. This includes the AU Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) and the and the North-South Corridor.

Much has been said thus far about the initiatives that have been undertaken by states to advance China-Africa cooperation towards meeting the challenges of economic globalization and common development. The reality though, is that advancing our agenda requires coordination between all segments of our respective societies, with business leaders such as yourselves being the key implementers of the economic agenda.

In support of our Leaders anticipated goals, the task that has been set for us is to consider what is required to give practical meaning to an economic partnership that will catapult industrialisation of the Continent. While our trade has expanded exponentially in the last 15 years with projections looking even rosier, moving our economic cooperation to a new level of industrial cooperation, necessitates a comprehensive and concerted response.

More specifically, significantly advancing industrialisation within our trade and investment partnership, requires commitments by government and business on:

  • Improving industrial production capabilities
  • Establishment of SEZs, industrial parks and technology parks
  • Increased technology transfer and skills development
  • Beneficiation at source
  • Increasing investment flows
  • Market access expansion
  • Diversification of the trade basket to include more value-added goods
  • Expansion and integration of value chains across the Continent.

China has reached a level of industrialisation where it has well established advanced industries and technology with surplus capacity. Furthermore, it is now also in a position where it can shift advanced production capacity to different parts of the world. On the consumption side, as the second largest economy in the world, it has reached a level where it can also make a meaningful contribution to invest in manufacturing of and take up more value-added exports from Africa.

Esteemed guests, I suggest that our economic cooperation agenda extend beyond trade and investment issues to include customs cooperation, trade facilitation, industrial and innovation policy, intellectual property, e-commerce, deliberate natural resource based technology commercialisation and industrialisation partnerships and small business development.

In addition to this, I think it important for us to jointly work towards a cooperation agenda as it relates to capacity building, skills development, infrastructure development, knowledge exchange initiatives and increased foreign direct investment in key value adding industrial projects.

The exponential growth potential on the African Continent calls for serious consideration by global investors and business leaders. We would like to encourage you as Captains of Industry, to consider the exciting opportunities that Africa has to offer as we continue to set the pace in the calls for building a more equitable global political and economic order.

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed members of business community,

The Johannesburg Summit has set for itself the goal of the transformation and upgrading of China-Africa cooperation to an unprecedented level. You have the opportunity, during a unique time in history,to contribute to and shape the economic narrativebetween the world’s second largest economy and the second fastest growing region in the world. In this respect let the core FOCAC principles of Win-Win and equal partnerships guide you. Today is yours!!!!

Thank you.

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