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​This was the central theme of the 2017 Global Trade Show (GTS) of Networking and Match-Making South Africa held over three days at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

The GTS, which started on Sunday July 30 and ended on Tuesday August 1, was supported by the City of Johannesburg, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GDDA).

Of the 200 companies exhibiting at this year’s event, about 85 companies were from China, most of which are involved in manufacturing.

At a workshop on how to do business in China, a significant amount of time was spent on the “One Belt, One Road” policy, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2013.

It involves China ploughing billions of dollars of infrastructure investments in countries along the old Silk Road, linking it with a network of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce. 
Justin Zhao, one of the GTS’s organisers, said the manufacturing potential was strong in Africa.

“We have brought quite a number of manufacturers from the various provinces of China. When you zoom into some of them you realise they are strong in manufacturing. One of the provinces is very strong in making furniture, which is exported all over the world. Another specialises in tools.

“This is a platform for these companies to get out of the country and promote their products here. We would also like them to partner with South African companies. Some of these companies want to set up their factories on the continent. This will help the local economy and employment,” said Zhao.

Local exhibitors said the GTS was a platform to gain exposure.

Livhu Ratshinanga, Managing Director of Shali Safety, which manufactures bulletproof vests, said his company was looking at expanding into the rest of the continent.

“We came to the GTS so we could get exposure as we are looking at expanding by doing business on the African continent and all over the world. Of course, one would want exposure in our own country as well. So far, we are happy with our clientele but have to work hard to get more on our database. We just need more capital so we can contribute to the country’s economy through creating jobs. The plan is already there,” said Ratshinanga.

John Silver, founder of JM Solar Solutions, an exhibitor at the show, said he went to the GTS to look for partnerships.

“I have come here to see what partnerships I can form to grow my business and to take renewable energy further afield. We have been in the business for three years and it’s been a bit of a journey. The business has grown and we are still surviving,” said Silver.