ITS A DEAL: Saudi Arabia South Africa Business Council (SASABC) co-chairs Dr Amin AlShanqiti, of Saudi Arabia, and South Africas Dr Iqbal Surv� (middle), with other council members after their meeting yesterday.

THE third Saudi Arabia South Africa Business Council (SASABC) meeting, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, yesterday, was declared the most successful yet by the council’s two co-chairs, Dr Iqbal Survé and Dr Amin AlShanqiti.

The meeting concluded with a firm commitment to strengthening economic relations between the two countries. Potential investment opportunities in key economic sectors were confirmed, which included mining petrochemicals, agriculture, ICT and financial services.

The establishing of firmer relations between the media sectors was also agreed upon. Dr Survé, who led the South African delegation, indicated there were enormous investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, which has the largest economy in the Gulf region.

“The business relationship between Saudi Arabia and South Africa has been strengthened significantly on a business level. This was confirmed by the successful SASABC meeting today, which augurs well for economic and trade relations between us,” said Dr Survé.

The SASABC is planning a special conference to be held in South Africa later this year to showcase the trade and investment possibilities.

The co-chairs presented their report to Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and his Saudi counterpart, Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, at the sixth Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in Riyadh.

The JEC is an initiative which aims to strengthen economic ties, to attract foreign-direct investment from Saudi Arabia into South Africa and to promote sound business-to-business co-operation.

Although South Africa’s exports to Saudi Arabia improved last year, the trade deficit is still in their favour.

Before he travelled to the kingdom earlier this week, Davies said: “South Africa’s exports to Saudi Arabia showed an increase from R2.6 billion in 2013 to R4.7bn in 2014, reflected by an annual growth of 80.62 percent in 2014.

“The export trend with an average growth of 20.42 percent from 2010 to 2014 was overcome by a strong upward import trend that recorded a continuous increase in imports at an average growth of 39.22 percent in the same period. South Africa’s imports showed a sharp increase from R23.6bn in 2010 to R77.3bn in 2014.” – Staff Writer