The 20th Southern African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX) wrapping up today and with all the participants going home with their wares and fares, a closer look at the partnership between the exhibition and it’s new official partner- China, has offered analysts a gaze into the Chinese intentions towards South Africa and the continent. After all, SAITEX is the biggest internationally supported trade fair in Africa, and would be a prime hunting ground for Chinese companies seeking entrance into Africa.
When asked about the United States’ take on China’s inroads on the continent , during his recent visit to South Africa, Barack Obama rubbished the idea that the USA is worried about China’s influence on the African business landscape, but no super-power likes to be usurped by the new kid on the block. The Chinese though have never been the sort to care what others think of their economic prowess, South Africa has a market they want and supplies vital mineral resources that support China’s dynamic industrial growth.
The Chinese saw the exhibition as an opportunity for South African companies and Chinese ones to do business together and get a feel for what each country has to offer. With the opportunity for hundreds of exporters, distributors, manufacturers and agents to network with a focus on business in Africa, the Chinese had a four hundred strong representation there. It has been long part of the Chinese hunt for new markets, to focus on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and with South Africa being China’s biggest export destination on the African continent, there is no sign of a slow-down.
While the Chinese and South African romance might seem one sided, South Africa heavily relies on its export links with China. As the Chinese economy has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade, its insatiable need for iron ore and coal has been supported by South African mines. Recent growth forecasts have indicated that the Chinese economy is slowing down, which will dampen exports to the middle kingdom, something that could spell woe for the already ailing South African economy.
A cut back in exports of coal and iron ore, compounded with falling gold prices will hopefully be on the agenda when the tripartite alliance of the ANC, COSATU and SACP holds an economic summit this week, a summit in which analysts will be waiting to see what course is set for mending the distressed South African economy.