The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies has returned to South Africa following his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he co-chaired the 8th Session of the South Africa – Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC). The Saudi side was chaired by HE. Dr Majed Abdullah Alkasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment.
The JEC reached agreement to cooperate on various areas ranging from Energy, Industry, Mineral resources, Finance and Banking, Agriculture, Tourism, Transport, etc. An agreement was also reached to cooperate on social areas like Education, Sport, Health, Labour, amongst others.
A key outcome was encouraging discussions around investment in the energy sector by Saudi Arabia into South Africa. Saudi Arabia is keen to collaborate with South Africa in developing its mining sector and is keen to work with South Africa in this regard. According to Minister Davies, progress was made in advancing discussions on investment in the energy sector in line with the investment pledge of $10bn by Saudi Arabia. A technical team on energy will be visiting South Africa to conduct a feasibility shortly in accordance to the $10bn pledge.
In the area of Energy, agreement was reached to finalise an MOU on renewables between the two countries. This will advance closer cooperation and exchange of expertise in this field. ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia already invested in a solar plant in Bokpoort, Northern Cape which is operational. ACWA Power is at an advanced stage to build another renewable energy plant in the Eastern Cape.
The investment relationship between South Africa and Saudi Arabia was further strengthened with the signing of an investment cooperation agreement between Invest South Africa and Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA). The agreement provides a framework for investment cooperation and will advance two-way investment, it further provides a mechanism to resolve any obstacles that might hinder investment projects.
Minister Davies addressed a South Africa- Saudi Arabia Business Forum that was hosted by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce. His programme in Saudi Arabia included a number of bilateral meetings with relevant Saudi Ministries and Investors such as ACWA Power
International Chairman: Mr Mohammed Abunayyan and the Vice President of Islamic Development Bank: Dr Mansur Muhtar
South Africa and Saudi Arabia maintain good political and economic relations and cooperate in a number of fields. Saudi Arabia continues to be SA’s strategic partner in the Middle East region and is South Africa’s 2nd largest trading partner and largest source of imports from the Middle East region. Globally, Saudi Arabia is among South Africa’s top 5 import partners, largely due to the amount of the oil we import from the Kingdom. SA’s exports are led by mineral product, automotive, base metals, machinery and mechanical appliances.
In terms of bilateral trade, total trade between South Africa and Saudi Arabia amounted to R55, 4 billion in 2017, with a trade surplus in favour of Saudi Arabia due to oil imports. The total trade has shown consistent increase from R39,1 billion in 2013 to R55,4 billion in 2017.
Davies was accompanied by a delegation of senior government and state-owned enterprises (SoE) officials, as well as a business delegation.
Meanwhile, Minister Davies will today host the inaugural Black Industrialists Roundtable Dialogue at the South African Bureau of Standards in Pretoria under the theme Black Industrialists: Expanding Economic Investments and Strengthening Competitiveness.
The purpose of the dialogue is to facilitate and foster open discussion between the government and the private sector, including beneficiaries of the Black Industrialists Scheme (BIS), on means and ways to strengthen collaboration, and share lessons learnt during the initial roll-out of the scheme.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.
Minister Rob Davies and his Saudi counterpart, Dr Majid Bin Abdullah during the signing of the JEC minutes