(MENAFN - Arab News) The Kingdom and South Africa pledged yesterday to enhance their bilateral trade volume from SR20 billion to SR30 billion during the coming five years.
This was announced at the conclusion of the Fourth Saudi Arabian African Joint Committee at the Royal Conference Palace in Riyadh.
The minutes of the joint committee was signed by Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
The signed document included recommendations to develop bilateral trade between the two countries and increase the volume of trade between the Kingdom and South Africa. The minutes called upon the South African investors to take part in the development of mining industry in the Kingdom.
The committee also stressed the importance of agro-processing, petrochemical and manufacturing of cars and urged the competent authorities of both countries to chalk out a plan for the future to strengthen cooperation in the field of tourism by easing the entry visa procedures between the two countries and to help exchange of information between the businessmen of the two countries.
It was said in the minutes that the Saudi side is ready to conclude an agreement for the promotion and protection of investments between the two countries and sign an accord with South Africa for a technical cooperation in the field of specifications and standards. The committee called upon the competent authorities of both countries to explore the possibility of cooperation in new areas such as agricultural cooperatives, and registration of Arabian horses and vaccines.
The two parties agreed to set up a Saudi Arabia South Africa Holding (SASAH) in Riyadh to develop business in agriculture, mining and petrochemicals.
Making his remarks at the conclusion of the agreement, Al-Rabiah said the two parties have agreed to promote cooperation in several areas targeting to increase the volume of bilateral trade and investment in the two countries. "It will also increase the volume of industrial cooperation and the exchange of expertise in the sectors of mining, defense, health and other various sectors, "he added.
Expressing confidence in the economy of South Africa, the minister said the Kingdom enjoys a vibrant economy and the combined efforts of the two sound economies would take the bilateral trade to new heights. He also pointed out that the current SR20 billion mark in the bilateral trade between the two countries is not adequate compared to the trade potentials of the two countries. Therefore, he added that the volume has to be doubled with concerted cooperation between the two countries.
Potential areas include agriculture, industry, mining and cooperation in the areas of defense and exports and imports of products in both countries. He also said that there is a need for both countries to address the trade imbalance between the two countries. The two-way trade is currently in favor of the Kingdom due to its large export volume of Saudi oil products and petrochemicals and other industrial goods to the value of SR18.5 billion. The exports from South Africa to the Kingdom are only SR1.5 billion.
Responding to Al-Rabiah's speech, the visiting minister Davies said that the two countries have great trade potentials and they can enter into new joint ventures both in the Kingdom as well as in South Africa.
Describing Saudi Arabia as the first trade partner in the region, Davies also expressed his country's interest to import more oil from the Kingdom.