Dubai: South Africa remains the UAE’s key business and investment partner, with total bilateral trade reaching almost $2 billion (Dh7 billion) so far, top officials said yesterday.
A South African (SA) delegation attended the SA-UAE Business Forum hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday as part of South African President Jacob Zuma’s visit to the Middle East.
In his speech, South African Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies said South Africa is the 19th largest investor in the country, having invested 3.33 billion rand (Dh1.5 billion) since 2003. The biggest chunk of South African money went to the financial services sector. Investments were also made in the communications and pharmaceutical sectors.
Dubai is believed to have attracted the bulk of South African investments, although there were also ventures made in Abu Dhabi.
South African ambassador to the UAE Yacoob Abba Omar said there is a potential for South African investments in the UAE to expand further as a result of the visit.
“There is a potential for that especially within naturally aligned sectors through joint ventures, skills and technology transfers across prioritised sectors that include agro-processing, construction, energy, financial services, infrastructure, mining and tourism. But the focus is equally weighted in terms of investment coming from the UAE into South Africa,” he told Gulf News.
He said the UAE is the 24th largest investor in South Africa, having invested a total of 1.07 billion rand since 2003, representing 0.25 per cent of total capital investment in the country.
“We wish to see an increase in that to mirror the level of investment from South Africa into the UAE.”
He also noted that the UAE’s stability continues to encourage South African companies and experts to come and set up shops, invest and work here.
“Likewise, South Africa offers its investors the stability of a strong infrastructure, the opportunities of a vibrant emerging market and a climate that fosters growth. South Africa’s competitive advantage as a business destination includes best financial services and legal sector in Africa, in addition to being Africa’s largest economy and the only African member of the G20.”
Senior director of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Atiq Juma Nassib is optimistic that, as seen from yesterday’s discussions, more business ventures will be made in the near future.
He also urged entrepreneurs to look at new markets and products to strengthen trade ties further.
“Trade, which is such a major contributor to Dubai’s economy, is one area where we see potential. At present, South Africa is Dubai’s 35th largest trade partner, with total imports, exports and re-exports last year worth Dh5.47 billion,” he said.
Horse export protocol
Davies also announced that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in South Africa is seeking to draw up a protocol agreement for the direct export of their horses to the UAE.
“Due to instances of African horse sickness in South Africa, horses have been exported via Europe to the UAE. This is a non-tariff trade barrier and also very costly for SA exporters. Horses have to go via Europe for quarantine, before they are allowed into the UAE.”