South Africa’s fresh fruit industry is one step closer to strengthening trade relations with China following the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries.
The memorandum of understanding, which is expected to boost fruit exports from Mzansi to China, was signed between Fruit South Africa and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CCCFNA).
Chairman of Fruit SA’s board, Justin Chadwick, says the alliance will see to greater cooperation as well as statistical information and technology exchange between the two countries’ fresh fruit industries.
The pact was officially signed by Chadwick himself and Xu Xiaohu, vice president of CCCFNA.
According to Chadwick the memorandum of understanding signals the start of a very lucrative relationship with CCCFNA who represents many importers in China.
“China is an extremely important importer of fruit from around the globe and South Africa still needs to get full benefit from what the market offers.
“The agreement allows Fruit SA the opportunity to network and learn from those in the know. It is exciting to form new relationships,” Chadwick states.
The CCCFNA represents over 6 800 companies across China which comprise some of the largest agricultural companies in the country as well a large number of SMEs.
With a population of around 1.38 billion, and the demand for fresh fruit expected to continue growing in years to follow, China offers a major opportunity for further market expansion, Chadwick believes.
As a result, the local industry aims to increase its exports to China over the next five years and in this way contribute towards increased jobs in the sector.
Chadwick adds, “This memorandum of understanding will mean that importers in China and exporters in South Africa will encourage the authorities to conclude trade agreements and improve trade relations.”
Last year, South Africa exported over 2.8 million tonnes of fresh fruit to overseas markets. However, only a small percentage of these exports went to China.
The South African fresh fruit industry is the country’s largest exporter of agricultural products employing over 260 000 workers and supporting a million livelihoods.
Trade visits between SA and China
Furthermore, Fruit SA and CCCFNA will now support trade visits between South Africa and China for the representatives of each association. Where appropriate, it also heralds support for each other’s publicity and promotional activities.
The effective execution of commitments in the memorandum of understanding will be reviewed by a group collectively nominated by the two associations. The group will comprise of at least one representative from each association and monitor the implementation of projects and address any issues that may arise from the agreement.
Fruit SA also hopes that the agreement will assist them in concluding the pear and lemon review protocol.
Currently, barely any South African grown lemons are being exported to China. This is despite the pear protocol already being completed and just awaiting ministerial sign off.
Fruit SA is the umbrella body representing the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, the South African Table Grape Industry, Hortgro, the Fresh Producers’ Exporter Forum and the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association.