China is playing a strategic chess game in the world of geopolitics and international commerce. We are all aware of China’s global ambitions. It wants to become the number one economic, political, and military power in the world. And to achieve these objectives, China developed a strategic relationship with African governments since Africa remains virtually the last continent on which economic opportunities haven’t been yet thoroughly explored. Thus, there is an unexplored market that the Chinese are trying to secure by all means.
China is one of the world's largest consumers of corn (maize) due to its growing population and increasing demand for animal feed, food processing, and industrial purposes. China's domestic production of corn may not always be sufficient to meet its needs, leading to importation from other countries, including South Africa. There are several reasons why China has decided to buy corn from South Africa.
Geographic proximity: South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, making it an ideal supplier for China during its off-season. South Africa's corn harvest typically takes place from April to June, which coincides with China's need for corn during its own planting season.
Quality and variety: South Africa is known for producing high-quality corn with favorable characteristics such as low moisture content, good protein levels, and good milling properties. China may import South African corn to meet specific quality requirements for different applications, such as livestock feed or food processing.
Competitive pricing: The cost of corn in South Africa can be competitive compared to other global suppliers. China's demand for corn is significant, and it seeks cost-effective sources to ensure a stable supply for its domestic market.
Trade agreements and diplomatic relations: China and South Africa have a history of trade cooperation and diplomatic relations. Bilateral trade agreements and partnerships may facilitate the import of corn from South Africa by offering favorable trade terms, reducing tariffs, or simplifying import procedures.
Diversification of sources: China aims to diversify its corn import sources to mitigate supply risks. By purchasing corn from multiple countries, including South Africa, China reduces its dependence on any single supplier and enhances its food security strategy. China seeks to reduce its dependence on the American agricultural market.
A cargo ship loaded with corn from South Africa recently arrived at the Mayong port in Guangdong province, southern China—reflecting efforts to diversify import sources. China had previously been dependent on the U.S. and Ukraine for more than 90%of corn supplies. The shipment of 53,000 tons of feed corn on May 4 marked the commencement of regular shipments of South African corn to China. South Africa is Africa’s largest producer and one of its major exporters—also supplying white corn to Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique, although Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam are the major markets. China is believed to be fearing that growing tensions with the United States, make it vulnerable to potential U.S. food sanctions. Moreover, Ukraine’s corn exports have been disrupted by the war with Russia.