Timely South African - Saudi trade boost for local economy
SOUTH Africa could expect more trade with Saudi Arabia, after government officials and businesses from two countries concluded discussions which would see increased bilateral investments in the areas of energy, mining, agricultural produce, food processing and finished products.
Increased trade ties between the two countries will be on the agenda when President Jacob Zuma travels to Saudi Arabia later this month on a state visit accompanied by a business delegation.
In addition, a South African trade mission will visit Saudi Arabia in August, with South Africa lending support in terms of its knowledge of mining. Saudi Arabian companies are expected to participate in next year’s mining in Daba, which is scheduled for February.
Saudi Arabia was South Africa’s largest trading partner among the Gulf states and globally the country was among the top five import partners, largely due to oil imports.
The kingdom’s commerce and industry minister, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, said he would encourage more investment into South Africa from Saudi business people.
The meeting had agreed that the two countries should diversify their trade relations, with exports from SA to Saudi Arabia increasing last year it could not reverse a trade deficit caused by oil imports.
“Sixty-two percent of our export basket to Saudi Arabia consists of primary products – primarily agricultural and mineral products – and our ambition would be to increase the proportion of higher value-added products in our export basket.”
South Africa sought to export agricultural produce, and processed foods to Saudi Arabia. “We are continuing through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to engage with Saudi Arabia to clear some of the matters which will allow us to export poultry, beef into Saudi Arabia, bearing in mind that South Africa has |a well-respected and well-policed halaal system.”
He said Saudi Arabia remained strategically important for SA, and the strong relations between the two were signified by the frequent sessions of the joint commission.