Zuma pushes trade in Abu Dhabi

14 November 2011

South African President Jacob Zuma is in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a state visit that will see the signing of multiple trade and economic agreements.

Zuma, who is on a two-nation tour of the Gulf region, is visiting the UAE on Monday and Oman from Tuesday to Wednesday with the aim of identifying greater investment opportunities.

“We are pleased that institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority are committed to investing in South Africa,” Zuma said on his arrival on Sunday. “Our ministers have been directed to work out roadmaps for enhancing trade relations between the two nations during this visit.”

Not only is the Gulf the source of more than half of South Africa’s crude oil requirements, but it has become a major market for South African products, a significant source of investment, and home to a sizeable South African expatriate community.

Both Oman and the UAE are important markets for the South African defence industry.

The potential for greater interaction between the two countries is enhanced through the 56 weekly flights between South Africa and the UAE.

24th largest investor in South Africa

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who is accompanying Zuma on his trip, told the SA-UAE Business Forum in Dubai on Sunday that South Africa had invested R3.33-billion in the United Arab Emirates since 2003, making the country the 19th largest investor in the UAE.

The UAE, for its part, was currently the 24th largest investor in South Africa, Davies said.

Davies also announced that the South African government, through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had proposed a protocol agreement for the direct export of horses from South Africa to UAE.

“Due to instances of African Horse Sickness in South Africa, horses have been exported via Europe to 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, and we hope to turn around the situation once our proposed protocol has been accepted by the UAE authorities.”

10 draft agreements being negotiated

The Middle East is an important economic region as it occupies a unique geo-political position in the tri-continental hub of Europe, Asia and Africa.

It is the source of 67 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves and commands two of the most strategically important waterways in the world, namely the Gulf and the Red Sea, giving access to the Asian hinterland via the Gulf of Aqaba.

South Africa and the UAE have signed five bilateral agreements, which provide the framework for co-operation.

There are 10 draft agreements currently being negotiated in the areas of defence, taxation, industrial development, promotion of investments, legal matters, social development and transport, as well as a joint commission on bilateral issues.

In Oman, it is expected that a “Supplementary Protocol amending the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income” will be signed.