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China Job Fair strengthens SA bilateral ties

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The 2024 China Job Fair has continued to exceed expectations following the 2022 edition of the event, the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa, said on Tuesday.

“In 2022 I was still special diplomatic adviser to the president. I received an invitation to attend the Job Fair and I told the president that the invitation said they expected 1 000 jobs to be created,” Ramokgopa said.

“He told me to ask them to increase that to 3 000. When I relayed the request I was told, ‘no problem’, and I then told the president. He then said we should ask to increase this to 6 000. I then did as my boss told me to as I wanted to keep my job and once again the response was that it would be no problem.

“Now as I address you at the 2024 Job Fair I am glad to say that in actual fact the 2022 Job Fair created 12 000 jobs and I am expecting a similar number today.”

The Job Fair comes as the Chinese economy exceeded expectations as its gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2024 grew by 5.3% year-on-year from 5.2% in the fourth quarter, following expectation of a 4.6% slow down.

China is pivoting to hi-tech products such as electric vehicles and smartphones, so there was no surprise that the output of hi-tech manufacturing rose by 7.5%.

Ramokgopa said that over the past 26 years, South Africa and China had enjoyed strong bilateral and diplomatic relations.

She said these relations had strengthened over the years and had unlocked the potential between the two nations, who shared same desire for development, inclusive and equitable growth, and increased commercial opportunities for South Africa’s people.

To strengthen these bilateral relations, the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is underpinned by a new 10-year Strategic Programme of Co-operation (2020-2029), and supported by key objectives of the BRICS Plus and the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC).

“Over the years, our economic relations have grown, making China South Africa’s largest global trading partner. Trade grew exponentially from less than R1 billion in 1998 to R54bn in 2021,” Ramokgopa said.

“In this regard, China has made over $25bn worth of investments in South Africa, creating over 400 000 local jobs. During South Africa’s fifth Investment Conference in 2023, Chinese companies announced nearly R15bn in intended new investment.

“In the same year, we witnessed the noteworthy signing of $2.2bn worth of purchase agreements between businesses from both countries. Therefore, our healthy trade relations remain instrumental in addressing poverty, inequality, and unemployment.”

She thanked the South Africa-China Economy and Trade Association for organising the Job Fair and for being a catalyst in facilitating partnerships and social compacts across the business communities of both countries to advance key targets including job creation.

“In this context, we believe that South Africa-China relations must remain committed to closing the developmental gap by ensuring advancement is equitable and mutually beneficial,” she said.

“We are steadfast in building a South Africa that promotes high-quality development through an economic environment that enables economic opportunities, prioritises redistribution, promotes industrialisation and innovation, and attracts foreign direct investment opportunities.”


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