SA companies score big at China expo

South African companies, who participated in the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), have described it as a door to many opportunities.

The inaugural China International Import Expo, which started on Monday, ended on Sunday in Shanghai. Twenty-seven South African organisations, including provincial investment agencies, Special Economic Zones, Export Councils, as well as private companies, participated.

One of the participants, the Business Developer of DesSoft, Mark Taylor, said their trip to China CIIE has been very successful, as they have excellent leads to work on.

He said their participation has been a wonderful platform to engage with other companies and countries, and not just local Chinese companies.

“We got major opportunities to work on. The leads that I have had… have been of high level. I would say this has been quite easily the best pavilion that I have been to. We travel regularly with dti and have some very focused trips that we have been on to other countries.

“This is the one that has proven to have the best opportunities for us that we could grab immediately. We really are truly blessed to have been here. We got some good leads, some big Chinese organisations have said they want to work with us. So we are really excited to see how we can grow our footprint into this market,” said Taylor.

The CEO of Port Elizabeth-based company, The Little Slipper, Kate Horne, who also represented the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council, said there is a phenomenal market for the sector in China.

The Little Slipper manufactures footwear and specialises in children’s leather footwear. It is one of the suppliers for Woolworths South Africa.

Horne said her business got some good leads.

“Every day we walk away excited by the contacts we have made. We’ve got a constant flow of people showing interest in our product, as it is very unique and different.

“They can see the quality that we produce and we have definitely been approached by lots of e-commerce sites, trading houses, government officials and we have even had an opportunity to mingle with other countries that we could possibly export to.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity for us and definitely, there are lots of leads that we can follow up that will create business for us in the future,” said Horne.

She said the work that the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) has done to create the platform for the industry to participate at the CIIE is phenomenal, and they have learned a lot while in China.

The CEO of Pioneer of Durability Engineering, Seponono Kekana, said she not only met with Chinese but with other potential clients from Africa, including Ghana, Senegal and Kenya.

Kekana’s company is a specialised monitoring company that intends to work with the Chinese on infrastructure in Africa. She said they can play a monitoring role and be a true third party acting on behalf of different governments.

South Africa’s current export basket to China consist mainly of minerals and raw materials. The CIIE was an opportunity to showcase the diversity of value-added products South Africa is able to export to China.

The South African delegation was a mix of well-established companies and Export Councils representing the agro-processing, engineering, chemicals, rail, infrastructure, consumer goods and ICT sectors.

The CIIE was an opportunity to showcase some of South Africa’s export-ready Black industrialist companies.

South African Foreign Economic Representative in Shanghai, Thulani Mpetsheni, said South Africa was well positioned right next to the stand of the host country and other well-known trading international nations like Russia, Canada, Great Britain, Mexico and Brazil.

“Over and above the position in the exhibition, and the possibly good selection of visitors, the stand design and look of the South African Pavilion was outstanding. Therefore, the stage was well set for the South African companies, organisations and agencies. The South African companies and entities at the show presented a well-balanced geographic spread,” said Mpetsheni.

Meanwhile, Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) has signed a Memo of Cooperation with Orient International Enterprise (OIE) on the margins of the China International Import Expo.

OIE is a State-owned and listed company in Shanghai. It is known as one of the leading trade import and export organizations and has set its sights on Mpumalanga as one of its future partners.

The signing of a Memo of Cooperation is a key milestone for MEGA, which has been mandated to develop the Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market with the aim of exporting fresh produce and agro-processed products to both the domestic and international market.