The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is an official forum between the People’s Republic of China and the states in Africa. FOCAC holds a Ministerial conference every three years and holds a Summit every nine years. The most recent Summit was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2015. The next conference will be held in Beijing, China, in 2018 and will be the seventh Ministerial conference since FOCAC’s inception.
Since the 2015 Summit, there have been a number of agreements, memoranda of understanding and action plans concluded between the various government entities of China and South Africa, all in attempts to strengthen the bond between the two states. Amongst the numerous collaborations between our two countries, six of the most notable agreements and projects are listed below.
- Waiver of Visa Requirements for Diplomatic and Official Passport Holders
- Co-operation between the Department of Higher Education and Training of the RSA and the Ministry of Commerce of the PRC
- Loan Agreement between the China Development Bank Corporation and Eskom
- Framework Co-operation Agreement between the China Export Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure) and Transnet
- Collaboration and Framework Agreement between Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Bank of South Africa
- Co-operation Agreement between Investec and the Export-Import Bank of China
The Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Diplomatic and Official Passport Holders allows for those citizens from South Africa and China who hold valid diplomatic or service passports to enter into, exit from, transit through, or stay in the territory of the other country, without requiring a travel permit, for a period not exceeding 30 days. Accredited diplomatic and consular staff, as well as members of their families, will not be required to obtain a visa for the duration of their accreditation. This policy will replace the existing Agreement regarding the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic Passports, signed between the countries on 24 August 2010.
South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training and China’s Ministry of Commerce drafted an action plan on the Five to Ten Year Strategic Programme for Co-operation in human resource development. As part of the implementation programme for the period from 2015 to 2024, China is offering South African students 2,000 education/training opportunities with degrees or diplomas, and 30,000 government scholarships.
The action plan will also assist in strengthening the promotion of personnel exchanges, as well as in enhancing mutual friendship between the two countries by inviting 200 African scholars and 500 African youths to study in China each year.
Eskom, Africa’s largest producer of electricity, and the China Development Bank will conclude a loan agreement to facilitate South Africa-China investment and trade co-operation and to further support Eskom’s infrastructure construction. The loan facility is estimated to be in the amount of R7.2 trillion (US$500 billion).
Transnet, South Africa’s largest state-owned logistics company, and Sinosure, China’s largest export credit insurance state-owned enterprise, will conclude a framework agreement of co-operation. Sinosure is willing to provide insurance support to Transnet with respect to financing activities for a total amount of R35 billion (US$2.5 billion) in the first phase of co-operation with Transnet, in relation to the procurement by Transnet of mechanical and electrical products and whole-set equipment from Chinese enterprises, and projects contracted by Chinese enterprises in South Africa, as well as operation, maintenance and other related services.
Sinosure and Transnet will also jointly formulate the China-Africa Railway Cooperation Action Plan (2016-2020), promoting the construction of railway networks in Africa.
The agreement between Standard Bank of South Africa and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will facilitate the raising of rand-denominated funding for the Chinese bank, which will be made available to strengthen the various sectors of the South African economy, with a particular focus on power and infrastructure. The agreement is valued at R10 billion (US$700 million) and will take place over the next five years.
On 2 December 2015, South Africa’s Investec Bank and the China Export-Import Bank concluded a strategic co-operation agreement aimed at strengthening and enhancing trade and economic co-operation between the two countries and industrial development.
The agreement establishes a framework for developing a long-term business relationship between the two banks, aimed at promoting co-operation in the areas of export finance, project finance, the internationalisation of the Chinese Yuan and its use as a settlement currency in trade, and other finance fields, especially in Africa.
The two banks will further place special emphasis on co-operation in projects to enhance trade between China and South Africa in:
- mechanical and electronic products;
- high-tech and new-tech products;
- raw materials;
- agricultural products and other products consistent with the economic and industrial development goals of the respective governments; and
- energy and infrastructure projects located in China, South Africa or third countries in sub-Saharan Africa to be invested or developed by Chinese and/or South African enterprises.