JOHANNESBURG – A high-level trade and investment delegation organised by the Ministry of Economy under the chairmanship of H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, participated at the Africa Trade Week, in Johannesburg South Africa, from 23 – 25 June, under the theme ‘Africa – The New Home for Trade’.
The Africa Trade week saw the participation of senior officials and representatives from the federal and local authorities as well as the UAE’s private sector.
The UAE observes that South Africa’s stable macroeconomic environment provides a strong platform to attract foreign capital that can fund additional investment. This has been evidenced by the UAE’s announced plan to invest U.S.$10 billion in key sectors of South Africa’s economy, such as tourism and mining among others, during H.E President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to the country in 2018. The UAE has further observed that South Africa’s prudent macroeconomic policies are highly regarded by international investors, as are its well-developed and well regulated financial markets.
On Tuesday 25 June, delegates from the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy, in Partnership with the Department of Industry (DTI) met in Rosebank, for the South Africa – UAE Business Forum in order to discuss increasing bilateral trade between the two countries. Representing the government of the UAE was H.E Abdullah Al-Saleh, Undersecretary of Foreign Trade and Industry within the UAE Ministry of Economy, H.E Mahash Saeed Alhameli, Ambassador of the UAE to South Africa, and Mr Mohammed Al Zaabi, Director at the UAE Ministry of Economy.
The foremost objective of the UAE official delegation to South Africa was to provide UAE-based companies with the insight into processes as well as connections necessary to do business in South Africa. Members of the South African government, South African trade and investment bodies, and local big business in attendance saw high-level participation from investors and corporate owners from all sectors UAE delegation. The UAE government aims to collaborate with South African business on 10 key points of cooperation, in key areas of; petrochemicals, alternative renewable oil and gas energy, transport and infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare and education, defence and aerospace, real estate, tourism, and water and agriculture.
H.E Abdullah Al-Saleh, Undersecretary of Foreign Trade and Industry within the UAE Ministry of Economy, during his address to delegates, noted that the UAE recognises South Africa as the gateway to the rest of the African continent. And that the UAE “sees immense benefit in linking our public and private sectors – as we have done here today”.
The Ambassador of the UAE to South Africa H.E Mahash Saeed Alhameli, told delegates that UAE believes that a greater understanding of South Africa and the UAE’s respective economies, and the opportunities therein will facilitate an expansion of trade and investment between the countries. “It is especially in the area of trade that our relationship has grown significantly. While total trade in 1994 rested at R507 million, these figures have grown exponentially over the last two decades with the countries reaching record trade figures of R44.6 billion in 2018,” H.E Alhameli said.
Ambassador H.E Alhameli said that the Embassy of the UAE is optimistic about reaching an agreement around visa regulations. The UAE has become a second home to over 120,000 South Africans, with more than 200 South African companies currently operating in the UAE. “The easing of visa restrictions will create an environment which will welcome a greater number of investors and business people,” H.E Alhameli added.
The Ambassador noted that the UAE is actively committed to encouraging and supporting continued bilateral relations with South Africa in a number of areas of business and investment. One such example of this the 2018 signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Black Business Council and the Federation of the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry on the establishment of the United Arab Emirates – South Africa Joint Business Council.
Mr Sihle Ngcamu, Executive Manager of Investment Promotion at the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Trade and Industry, in his presentation, gave an overview, to keen UAE investors, of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s plans in the areas of investment promotion, export promotion, business retention and expansion, all of which is projected to create 750 00 jobs in the Province in the coming years. Mr Ngcamu further expanded on South Africa’s strong value proposition, highlighting the country as Africa’s most industrialised economy, as the region’s principle manufacturing hub and leading services destination.
A panel discussion on enhancing UAE – South Africa exports and investment opportunities was moderated by Ms Safiyya Akoojee, Director of Thomson Wiks Inc, UAE. The panellists included, Ms Judy Nwokedi, Secretary General of the Black Business Council, Mr Miller Matola, CEO of Mill Vest Investment and Business Advisory South Africa, and Ms Rola Abu Manneh, CEO of Standard Charted Bank, UAE. Mr Miller Matola from Mill Vest investment and business advisory SA said the recent SONA 2019 address made it clear that there is a move to reduce data costs in South Africa, and this is just one of the incredible opportunities the UAE offers. according to Ms Judy Nwokedi, Secretary General of the Black Business Council, encouraged UAE companies looking for investment opportunities in South Africa, to approach the Black Business Council, noting that it was time for the wealth of South Africa to be shared by the black demographic.
Following the panel discussion, a “Business to Business,” networking session took place between UAE and South Africa delegates, in a bid to foster mutually-beneficial partnerships in the aforementioned 10 key points of cooperation.
South African companies looking to do business with the UAE have been encouraged to get in touch with the following ministries and agencies:
- The UAE Ministry of Economy
- The Embassy of the UAE to South Africa
- Sharjah Exports Development Centre
- Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Bizzmosis Businessmen Services
- Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), UAE