The UAE’s economic relationship with South Africa appears to be burgeoning at present. With a high level trade delegation from the UAE in the county at present, various announcements have been made, highlighting how both countries intend to further strengthen links. Furthermore, the UAE is currently exploring investments in the country’s agricultural sector.
The moves come with the news that the trade exchange between the two countries reached $2.5 billion in 2014, up ten percent from the previous year’s figure. The balanced is tilted strongly in the favor of South Africa, which represents one of Africa’s largest emerging economies.
South Africa dominated the exchange, with imports of $1.72 billion, with exporting $124 billion with the remaining $87 million in re-exports. Ethylene polymers topped the list of the UAE’s exports to South Africa at $23.5m. Other top exports included copper coils, large bottles, panels, plates and electrical devices. Imported items from South Africa included gold ore, diamonds, coal, vehicle parts, transport vehicles, fresh or dried citrus fruits, pears, apples and other agricultural produce.
As part of the three-day visit by UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori a meeting was held with between Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel to discuss the potential for the UAE to invest in South Africa’s agricultural sector. Patel claimed that the UAE represented an important gateway to the Middle Eastern market, “We want to boost the level of trade and do it through the export of products between our countries, diversify our economic relationship and see where we can strengthen opportunities for investment,” he said. He went on to state that there was growing demand within the UAE for South African exports, including citrus fruit and diamonds. In turn, South Africa was a significant importer of petrochemical products.
The UAE represents a significant market for South Africa, with the Emirates importing 40 percent of the country’s diamond production and 10 percent of all South African coal production. The strong links between the two countries seem set to continue.