The Chinese are back in town

Now in its third consecutive year, the China Sourcing Fair will be hosted again at Gallagher Convention Centre from 28 to 30 November. This is the last leg of the 2012 global road show following major successes in Hong Kong, Dubai, Miami, Sao Paulo and Mumbai.

 

Exhibitor categories will include Baby and Children’s Products, Electronics, Fashion Accessories, Garments and Textiles, Gifts and Premiums, Hardware and Building Materials, Home Products and Solar and Energy Saving Products.

 

Bill Janeri, Global Sources General Manager Developing Markets and organiser of the Johannesburg leg of the China Sourcing Fair (CSF) says that he was encouraged by the 20% increase in visitors at the 2011 Fair. “We enable South African traders to keep connected with hundreds of suppliers and provide a perfect platform to meet suppliers of a myriad of products face-to-face.”

 

Bilateral trade between South Africa and its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) partners grew substantially last year, powered by significant increases in trade and exports. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said bilateral trade between South Africa and China grew in 2011 by 32% and totalling R188-billion. South African exports grew by 46%, while exports to India grew by 20%, to Brazil by 14%, and to Russia by 7%. While South Africa has continued to run a trade deficit with China over the last four years, that deficit has narrowed by over 50%, from R48-billion in 2008 to less than R18-billion in 2011. A further vote of confidence is the announcement made by Transnet in October 2012 that it has placed an order valued at R2, 6 billion on a Chinese manufacturer for 95 locomotives. As a consequence, through the transfer of know-how, South Africa will become an OEM for the manufacture of locomotive components.

 

In July 2012 a delegation to the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing, led by President Jacob Zuma, was the latest in a series of high-level exchanges between South African and Chinese dignitaries over the past two years. China also pledged $20-billion in loans to the continent, double that of its 2009 commitment.

 

Thabo Masebe, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesperson, said the Beijing Declaration, signed in 2010, aimed to increase trade volumes and encourage investment by both countries. However, official engagement was not strictly governed by trade alone. He said that China is not only looking to Africa to extract raw materials, but to invest in infrastructure and skills.

 

Sidwell Medupe, spokesperson for the department of trade and industry, said South Africa had 10 “set-aside” products the Chinese government had agreed to promote. These included agricultural produce, plastics, steel and paper, and automotive equipment. He said more equitable trade relations would ensue in time.

 

Although China is South Africa’s largest trading partner, with vast economic, social and environmental implications, there is an incredibly low level of knowledge in Africa about this economic powerhouse of the East. “There is so much potential for even stronger links between Africa and China, yet most people have limited knowledge of China. Little is known about its politics, its environmental policies and its economic and sociological systems on the continent,” says Dr Sven Grimm, Director of the Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Stellenbosch University.

 

If China is not understood it is impossible to fully optimise the opportunities. Investment in knowledge should be of interest to governments, business and, broadly speaking, society as a whole. It therefore makes for good business sense for traders to visit the China Sourcing fair and to also register to attend the B2B conference during the Fair.

 

Janeri concludes: “The China Sourcing Fair is one of the most diversified country-specific presentations of products and services thus creating many different trading opportunities for different sectors of commerce and industry for South African traders and entrepreneurs.”

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