Pretoria: South African President Jacob Zuma Tuesday told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that he was happy China was his country's biggest trading partner but there should be a more equitable balance of trade with Beijing.
Recently-elected Chinese President Xi was greeted with a 21-gun salute as he met his South African counterpart during his official state visit to the country ahead of the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban over the next two days.
The talks between the Chinese delegation and their South African counterparts also resulted in signing of a number of agreements in a range of areas.
Zuma said China was South Africa's biggest trading partner and a significant investor in the country's economy.
"In 2012, exports from South Africa to China amounted to 89 billion rand, while imports from China to South Africa totalled 112 billion rand. Total trade stood at 201 billion rand, according to figures from the SA Revenue Service.
"China also ranks first in bilateral trade between South Africa and the other BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia and India. What we now seek to address jointly is to find the means towards a more equitable balance of trade," he said.
Zuma cited the on-going cooperation between the business-related sectors of both the countries as a step in the right direction in this regard.
Zuma lauded China for its support in the struggle against apartheid, with contact between the now ruling African National Congress and China dating back 60 years.
"The People's Republic of China readily obliged and remained steadfast in its opposition to apartheid until the first free and democratic election was held in South Africa in 1994," Zuma said.
Highlighting the common challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, Zuma said South Africa can learn a great deal from China's success in this regard in a short time.
"We view China's success as a source of hope and inspiration as we engage with the task of finding our own solutions for bringing about a better future," Zuma said.
"It is in this spirit that our two countries have signed the Terms of Reference of the Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on South Africa-China Cooperation.
"This Working Group will monitor the implementation of cooperative projects so that we are able to join hand in meaningful way as we go forward."
Agreements were signed for cooperation between the two countries in the fields of Science and Technology, Agriculture, and Health as well as capacity building and skills transfer in Human Resources and Education, which Zuma said would deepen bilateral relations.
First Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 20:38