South Africa – Qatar Business Forum held on Wednesday, November 15 in Doha, Qatar showcased multiple ways in which both countries can cooperate to strengthen mechanisms on economic, commercial and investment ties.
The visit by South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa and his delegation became the first visit to the State of Qatar as Head of State. He was accompanied by ministers from South Africa and leaders of business from South Africa
“Through today’s State Visit to Qatar we have renewed our relations and laid a solid foundation for increased trade and investment,” Ramaphosa stated.
The visit was also significant, not only as an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, but also share views on recent international developments with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Ramaphosa took the opportunity to thank the Qatar Amir for his efforts in solving international disputes. The Qatar Amir is currently in the process to broker a truce between the Israel government and Hamas to free the hostages.
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the State of Qatar and the Republic of South Africa dates back to 1994. During this time, the State of Qatar was at the forefront of the countries visited by former South African President Nelson Mandela in April 1995.
The relations have grown over the year’s. According to Ramaphosa, South Africa is ready to build more partnerships for faster, sustainable and inclusive growth.
“We are keen to deepen our bilateral relationship with Qatar. We look forward to partnering in sectors such as agro-processing, automotive, aquaculture, manufacturing, hydrocarbons, infrastructure, hospitality and tourism, to mention a few,” Ramaphosa stated.
Ramaphosa also extended an invitation to Qatar to join the country in developing a portfolio of investments . The investments can partner with the sovereign wealth fund to help the private sector to participate in.
South Africa and Qatar political relationship is currently strong. However, during the forum both sides called for more effort especially in areas of trade, investment and economic development.
Prior to the Forum, HH the Amir and the President of South Africa witnessed the signing of several memoranda of understanding between the two governments, including a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of education.
They also witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation in empowering women and persons with disabilities, and a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a mechanism for bilateral consultations.
South Africa Offer to Qatar Business Association
During the forum, South African President pointed out five features of the South African economy that offer the opportunity to build and expand the economic relationship between the two states.
Firstly, Ramaphosa stated that South Africa is Africa’s most industrialized economy, with well-established companies. It has many of the companies that are active in the Middle East and Qatar.
Likewise, Ramaphosa stated that South Africa is also developing greater market access across the world. Currently, it has free trade agreements in place with the European Union and the United Kingdom.
In addition, the African Country also has an access to the US market on preferential terms. These is through the African Growth and Opportunities Act and preferential access to certain Latin American markets.
SA plans to link its massive platinum reserves to the green hydrogen market. These could be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050. It’s National Infrastructure Plan prioritizes energy investment, energy transition and energy security.
Ramaphosa acknowledged Qatar’s experience, technology and capital in the petrochemicals, natural gas and energy infrastructure. The Business forum provides South African companies from Qatar to partner with South Africa to implement the energy transition.
The two states also discussed on far-ranging economic reforms. The reforms that provide opportunities for partnerships between foreign investors and domestic firms in South Africa.
SA pledged strong protections of property rights, a deep capital market with Africa’s largest stock exchange, and a growing pool of skilled employees.
Currently, the country attracts investors from across the world. These include more than 600 American firms and substantial investment from China, the UK and the European Union. Some of the world’s largest corporations are active In the South African market as investors.
South Africa- Qatar Business Forum Outcome
The outcome was revealed during a forum held at the Sheraton Hotel. The forum included a delegation from the Qatar Chamber and the Qatar Businessmen Association as well as delegation from SA.
SA President during the forum said that, Qatar is a positive partner to South Africa. He called on business sectors in Qatar to explore investment opportunities available in all sectors.
“We need to see Qatari investments in South Africa. There is no obstacles between both countries to expand their commercial relations,”
The Chamber’s delegation was led by First Vice-Chairman HE Mohamed bin Twar Al-Kuwary. They included Second Vice-Chairman HE Rashid bin Hamad Al Athba, several board members, and a number of Qatari businessmen.
In his remarks, HE Mohamed bin Twar Al-Kuwary highlighted that the bilateral trade volume between the two countries experienced a notable surge. The volume surged by 33 percent, reaching QR 1.66 billion last year compared to QR 1.25 billion in 2021.
This emphasizes the importance of South Africa as a crucial trade partner for Qatar.