Xi’s South Africa visit starts with $6.5 billion in accords

Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw the signing of 26 agreements with South African companies and government departments worth 94 billion rand ($6.5 billion) ahead of meetings this week with leaders from across the continent.

The deals included a $2.5 billion credit line provided by China Export & Credit Insurance Corp. to South African rail and transport operator Transnet SOC Ltd. for electrical and mechanical equipment and a $500 million China Development Bank loan finance accord that will help electricity utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. to complete its power plant construction plan. The two countries also signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation.

The agreements were signed Wednesday in Pretoria, the capital, after Xi met South African President Jacob Zuma. He arrived earlier in the day from neighboring Zimbabwe where he held talks with the country’s leader, Robert Mugabe.

“Relations between China and South Africa are at their best ever,” Zuma told reporters, after the signing ceremony.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) inspects the guard of honour at the Union Buildings in Pretoria before his meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Sydney Seshibedi
Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) inspects the guard of honour at the Union Buildings in Pretoria before his meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Sydney Seshibedi

Xi is on a five-day African visit that includes the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation with leaders from across the continent in Johannesburg on Friday and Saturday. Chinese commerce with Africa reached $220 billion last year, making it the continent’s biggest trade partner.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said last month that the country’s investment in Africa fell by more than 40 percent in the first half of 2015.

Beijing Automotive Group Co. will invest as much as 11 billion rand in what could become the biggest car plant in South Africa, Trade Minister Rob Davies said in an interview after the press conference. Production may start at the end of 2017, said Geoffrey Qhena, the chief executive officer of the Industrial Development Corp.

 – Bloomberg