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News 24 Aug 2023

Standard Bank and ICBC celebrate 15-year partnership, sign 5-year renewal to drive Africa China trade

Africa’s largest bank by assets, Standard Bank, and one of the world’s leading banks, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have renewed their strategic cooperation partnership for another five years. The partner institutions continue to lead the Africa-China trade and investment markets, jointly providing unequalled expertise and capabilities to individuals and businesses trading between Africa and China.

At the signing ceremony for a 5-year renewal of their strategic co-operation agreement at Standard Bank’s head office in Johannesburg, the executive leadership of both banks committed to building on their highly successful 15-year partnership by unlocking enhanced opportunities across the growing China-Africa trade corridor. The renewed agreement celebrates the mutually beneficial and rewarding partnership, while looking forward to future growth.

The partnership between Standard Bank and ICBC has facilitated the world’s leading Africa-China trade and investment platform. In 2022 alone, their facilitated trade flows between Africa and China were valued at $600 million.

“Standard Bank has long understood the primary importance of China to the growth of our continent, and I am privileged and honoured to thank my colleagues at ICBC for their ongoing partnership. We look forward to the next 15 years together as we build on our successes and drive inclusive and sustainable growth in Africa,” says Standard Bank Group CEO, Sim Tshabalala.

“This relationship between Standard Bank and ICBC is critical to accelerating Africa’s economic development, broadens China’s relationships with Africa, and gives African exporters access to the world’s largest and most dynamic market.

By jointly endorsing the Belt and Road initiative and leveraging the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we expect Africa and China to become even more relevant to each other,” says Mr Tshabalala.

ICBC Chairman, Mr Chen Siqing, echoed these sentiments, thanking Standard Bank for its partnership, support and commitment over the years in encouraging robust and impactful trade between Africa and China, while having a significant impact on improving the lives of Africa and her people.

“China is Africa’s biggest trade partner, and we want to build on the successes while opening the door to renewed growth. This is especially true in the areas of energy transition which can create sustainable and long-term positive impacts, when we jointly support our respective countries and customers’ journeys to net zero emissions,” says Mr Chen.

“The ongoing development of China-Africa economic and trade exchanges, coupled with China’s economic growth and Africa's abundant resources, increasing industrialisation, and growing population, creates a promising environment for continued trade and investment.

As these trends continue, we look forward to working with our trusted partner Standard Bank to unlock these opportunities. We firmly believe our relationship will continue to mature and bear synergies and will remain beneficial to both organisations,” he says.

Recognising the significant growth potential of the continent, both Standard Bank and ICBC have invested heavily in building the necessary infrastructure and relationships to provide African and Chinese businesses easier access to the vast opportunities in this strategic trade corridor.

Standard Bank, with ICBC support, has facilitated the growth journeys of over 3,500 Chinese commercial, corporate and state-owned entities across 15 African markets. The bulk of these firms are overwhelmingly private firms invested in a broad range of sectors.  

The scale of new private Chinese investment has substantially enhanced Africa’s ability to import and deploy the technology and skills required to build its own economies while also increasing the continent’s ability to attract investment from other markets.

“As Africa’s biggest trading partner, China will remain deeply embedded in the continent’s economic growth story. Bringing these two regions together, combining our resources, ideas and cultures to create a unique shared capacity, has immense benefits that will drive regional and global development for generations to come,” concludes Mr Tshabalala.


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