KZN priority to entice China to increase business investment

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

KwaZulu-Natal acting premier and finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize has assured the Chinese business community that something was indeed being done about escalating crime levels in the province.

Speaking at a breakfast seminar held in Durban on Wednesday, Mkhize said the government and the ANC were aware that crime is a major concern for foreign investors, particularly those wanting to do business in the province.

The seminar was aimed at luring the Chinese business community to KwaZulu-Natal.

Mkhize said KwaZulu-Natal had prioritised its relationship with China because it was an emerging economic giant. He said this partnership started in 2004.

He said that in pursuit of economicdevelopment his government had been mandated to strengthen economic relations with China.

"With that mandate our province has developed concrete plans with our Chinese counterparts to take this relationship to the next level," Mkhize said.

He said Chinese investment in Africa had grown in seven years from R700million to R460billion by 2006.

"Africa had an estimated economic growth rate of about 5percent, while China has had a 10percent growth rate for four successive years."

"Such growth for a country with a population of 1,4billion people and the second largest economy after the United States, generates a huge market for products," he said.

Mkhize said South Africa exported 80percent of raw materials to China.

He urged the Chinese to seriously explore partnerships with South African businesses to reverse this trend.

"We need to have an airline that will land in our province directly from China by 2010 if not before.

"We also need to learn from China with the aim of exchanging skills and expertise in tourism, agriculture, agri-processing, IT, manufacturing, and clothing and textiles.

"I am convinced that there is a lot that we can learn from China's economic progress," Mkhize said.

Liu Yantao, China's consul general in Durban, said communication between the two countries would promote Chinese enterprises in the province.

"Our 10 years of diplomatic relations and bilateral economic cooperation has now flourished into various forms of trade, direct investment and skills support," he said.

Liu also applauded the recent Pretoria high court decision that ruled that South African Chinese should now be defined as blacks.