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SA, Saudi Arabia explore business opportunities


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Old 03-18-2014, 03:08 PM   #1
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Global SA, Saudi Arabia explore business opportunities

Officials from South Africa and Saudi Arabia have met to discuss further avenues of business that have not yet been fully explored between the two countries.

“There are a lot of expectations from both sides… that more should be done,” South African chairman of the SA-Saudi Arabia Business Council, Dr Iqbal Surve, said at the Saudi-South Africa business forum on Tuesday.

The business forum, organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), looked at ways of deepening trade and investment relations between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia, which is the 19th largest economy in the world, is important for South Africa’s energy security, as it supplies about 50% of the country’s imports -- making Saudi Arabia South Africa’s second biggest source of imports globally.

South African companies were investing in the Middle Eastern country, while Saudi business was also investing in the South African economy in sectors such as tourism.

“South Africa represents huge opportunities for investment and similarly, Saudi Arabia represents huge opportunities for South African business,” said Surve, adding that it was important for large corporates within the respective countries to engage one another.

It was also important for common ground to be found to support the fledging small and medium enterprises in the two countries.

South Africa presented a good environment for business. “I don’t think there’s a shortage of capital. We have good infrastructure,” Surve said.

SA-Saudi Arabia Business Council co-chairperson Dr Amin M. Al Shanqiti agreed that South Africa has a good environment for conducting business.

“It’s a lovely and promising place of doing business,” he told SAnews.

There had been complaints from stakeholders that not enough was being done to further enhance trade between the two countries.

“Maybe we had a lack of information about each other. These kinds of meetings help us to learn about one another. There are huge opportunities between [our] two countries,” Al Shanqiti said.

The forum was arranged so as to match business with other business in various sectors, including mining and energy.

“We’ve been working with the business council to highlight opportunities to increase the trading profile and the investment relationship between South Africa and Saudi Arabia,” said the dti’s chief director for investment promotion, Yunus Hoosen.

Al Shanqiti further added that there was a need for the respective countries not only to hold meetings but to “walk the talk too”.

Both countries, with Saudi Arabia being rich in oil and South Africa having a vast array of resources, were looking to diversify their economies.

Business ventures between the two countries needed to employ South Africans and Saudi people.

Saudi Arabia mainly exports medicines, petrochemical products and plastic textiles, among others.

In 2013, South Africa had a R74.8 billion trade deficit with Saudi Arabia, hence it is important for South Africa to increase its exports in order to balance trade.

In June 2012, the two countries set up a joint holding company to enhance business opportunities and investment between the two countries. The holding company - Saudi Arabian South Africa Holding (Sasah) - had the potential to create R20 billion worth of business opportunities in the two countries.

The company comprises different business sectors, including real estate and health services.

At Tuesday’s meeting, delegates heard that talks were underway on an agricultural project between the two countries.

Tuesday’s business forum precedes the 5th session of the SA/Saudi Joint Economic Commission (JEC) on Thursday, which will be co-chaired by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. - SAnews.gov.za
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