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Monday, August 23, 2010

Zuma looks to China to boost trade

 Late last year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered Africa $10 billion in concessional loans over three years.
Yet with GDP growth forecast at 2.3 percent this year, South Africa stacks up unfavourably against China and India, and Zuma will be looking to narrow his country's trade deficit with Beijing.

"South Africa wants Chinese investment, but at the same time is worried about the competition this will bring. South Africa is not well prepared for that," said Xu, the Chinese expert.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) is soul-searching over development policies, in particular how to boost the economy, which has failed to grow at the pace needed to dent chronic unemployment.

Many ANC officials are starting to see the fast growth of China and other BRIC economies as proof that the state should be doing more to nurture growth -- a departure from the free-market orthodoxy that has prevailed since the end of apartheid in 1994.

While Zuma is in Beijing, China and South Africa are expected to sign agreements that will include cooperation on mineral resources and transport, and to address lopsided bilateral trade flows.

China is South Africa's largest trading partner, but last year South Africa ran a $2.7 billion trade deficit with China.

A Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement that Zuma will sign is expected to address that, a South African government spokesman said.

"This agreement is expected to deal with the trade imbalance between the two countries and with the fact that South Africa still exports raw materials to China while importing finished products into our market," the government spokesman, Themba Maseko, said ahead of the visit.   

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