Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown says South Africa’s partnership with China must strengthen the countries state owned companies.

The department has signed two agreements with China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) which are intended to ensure that the state owned companies in both countries work optimally and are continually reformed.

The agreements are part of the 26 agreements worth R94bn that were signed at the Union Buildings, when President Jacob Zuma hosted his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping.

Transnet got a major boost as China’s Export Credit Insurance Corporation signed a cooperation agreement, which indicated that it is willing to finance Transnet activities such as railway, ports and pipelines with a total value of US$2.5bn.

“In strengthening our state owned companies we should be great profiteers and make the profit but at the same time grow the economy so that we are able to meet the challenges of the country. We have huge inequalities here, poverty and unemployment. That is what we have to respond to,” Minister Brown said.

The Minister was speaking at Transnet’s engineering manufacturing facility in Koedoespoort, Pretoria. She and SASAC Chairman Zhang Yi inspected some of the locomotives built by China South Rail. The companies under SASAC have built more than 200 locomotives for Transnet.

Transnet awarded the contract for the building of 1064 diesel and electric locomotives to four Original Equipment Manufacturers, including China South Rail, Zhuzhou and China North Rail. The project started in 2014 and the facility in Koedoespoort is manufacturing the locomotives.

“The companies collectively in SASAC are worth R53tn. The companies in my portfolio are worth R908bn, now we want to get to trillions,” Minister Brown said.

She said South Africa’s partnership with China has helped the country to not only build trains, but also train people. Yi said he hopes South Africa can develop its locomotives manufacturing capacity so that in future the countries have more chances to work together.