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Business Between the UAE and South Africa

Informal bilateral relations between South Africa and the UAE were initiated in 1992 when the South African Department of Trade and Industry and the South African Foreign Trade Organization organized a successful exhibition.

This exhibition of South African products took place in October 1992 and has laid the foundation for what soon became a prosperous business relationship. In an attempt to further explore and expand bilateral economic relations, a range of Provincial visits from South Africa, often led by Premiers, have taken place, particularly since November 2006.


There is a growing community of South African nationals in the UAE, stimulated, in part, by a growing demand for South African labor force. The major sectors where the requirement is increasing are: construction, hospitality, financial, medical, retail management and education.

Others range from well-known restaurant groups such as Nando’s, Butcher Shop, Meat & Co, Mug & Bean and Debonairs Pizza, to companies in the construction and engineering, banking, energy, travel and hospitality, trading, and HR consultancy sectors.

The UAE is seeking to strengthen trade between the two countries, particularly in the industrial sector, by appearing at business and trade events in South Africa.

Irfan Al Hassani, a UAE-based economic expert, stressed the importance of improving trade links with South Africa. “South Africa is fast becoming an emerging market that provides diverse products and resources,” he said.

He added that the healthy import growth highlights the importance of South Africa as a key supplier of a number of commodities. But, he reiterated that the government would like to see more South Africans invest in the UAE.

Recent Trade and Investment Highlights:

  • South Africa is the 19th largest investor in the UAE, having invested Dh1.5 billion since (2003).
  • More than 135 South African companies have established themselves in the UAE since (2012).
  • Trade between the UAE and South Africa jumped 21.7 percent exceeding $1 billion in (2010) .
  • The volume of non-oil exports from Dubai to South Africa has jumped from Dh1.26 billion in 2009 to Dh2.41 billion in 2010, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Dubai imports from South Africa show growth from Dh3.011 billion to Dh3.055 billion in 2010.
  • The Dubai Chamber said that mineral fuels, mineral oils, bituminous substances and mineral water are the top exports with 48.1 percent.
  • Other major Dubai export/ re-export products to South Africa include electrical machinery, equipment and parts comprised 18 per cent of foreign trade in (2010).
  • Bilateral trade between the two countries valued at approximately US $3 billion

(Source: Gulf News).

 

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