Forging ties with China

    China is still the leader in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) into southern Africa, and as the SADC countries continue to strengthen their profiles as attractive investment destinations, it is clear that this trend will continue to grow through 2011 and beyond.

    Although the will is there, and many intergovernmental cooperation agreements have been put in place to simplify trade agreements, the fact still remains that setting up business deals halfway across the globe is both costly and time consuming.

    “We’ve come a long way since Marco Polo, but the journey to a signed agreement can still be long and hazardous and fraught with risk,” says Glenn Hawes, director of Expo-International. “We could see that what was needed was a forum that would facilitate the process.”

    The result of that vision is IMEXPO – a conference, forum and exhibition that will be held at Nasrec in Johannesburg on 18 to 20 May 2011.

    The first and third day of the event will be Let’s do the Business which be focusing on project presentations by the SADC member countries and the SA Regional Investment Agencies

    “Our aim is to simplify discussions,” Hawes says. “So this part of event is free of charge. It will be a platform for SADC countries to highlight regional investments opportunities. The Chinese have money to spend in Africa, and we have projects that need funding. This is the place to make those connections.”

    It is not all about a flow of money into the region. There are major opportunities for investment co-operation for SADC industries and manufacturers as well. May 19 has been set aside for the Investment Forum.

    “Our aim here is to break through the trade and investment bottlenecks and to highlight mutual benefits in investment cooperation. The day will be spent in discussing vital topics in a speaker/panel discussion format,” Hawes says.

    All three days will focus on pre-arranged networking appointments in seven major sectors:
    Finance and Investment;
    General Trade and Export;
    Water and Sanitation,
    Construction; and

    The response to the event has been remarkable, with large delegations of Chinese investors and State Owned Enterprises already registered to attend. Thirteen of the SADC countries (with the exception of Madagascar & Angola) are also registered to attend, and parastatals such as Eskom are also sending sizeable delegations.

    For further information and to register, go to

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    Glenn Hawes is at +27 21 424 1801 or email