A state visit this past weekend to Saudi Arabia will ensure continued private sector investment in South Africa’s renewable energy and petrochemical sectors, banking and finance and tourism infrastructure, the Presidency said on Monday.
President Jacob Zuma also welcomed Saudi participation as a maritime state in Operation Phakisa.
Economic and political ties between South Africa and Saudi Arabia received a significant boost following Zuma’s 2-day visit to Riyadh, which served as a structural catalyst for strengthening bilateral relations, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, the Presidency said in a statement.
The visit also sought to expand bilateral trade in support of business in targeted sectors. These include the SA agricultural and agro-processed goods and services, defence procurement, manufacturing, mineral beneficiation as well as South Africa’s participation in the Saudi national transformation plan, especially in infrastructure development, including construction and engineering.
Zuma told the South Africa-Saudi Arabian Business Seminar on Sunday that South Africa was regarded globally as a “strategic and competitive destination for foreign investors”.
“South Africa remains in the top 30 economies globally. Given the diverse nature of our economy, the South Africa of today is one of the most promising emerging markets globally,” he said.
A combination of a highly-developed first-world economic infrastructure and a big emerging market has given rise to a strong entrepreneurial and dynamic investment environment.
“In addition, the South African government has achieved significant success in ensuring macro-economic stability via the implementation of policies directed at promoting domestic competitiveness, growth and employment,” said the Presidency.
Zuma discussed government’s five key priority areas, the presidential nine-point plan and the National Development Plan.
This he said all corresponded with Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plans, which provided many opportunities for bilateral co-operation.
Zuma said he was also pleased that the visit offered South Africa an opportunity of an overview of the regional security challenges from Saudi Arabia’s perspective.
“We are looking forward to the possibility of us as South Africa sharing our own experiences with regards to negotiation and reconciliation to assist in moving towards peace and security in that region,” he said.
The two countries agreed to work to ensure closer bilateral intelligence cooperation, in particular in relation to the regional terrorism threat to domestic and regional security and stability.
South Africa and Saudi Arabia will also promote the stabilisation efforts of South Africa’s Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) Special Envoys in support of international efforts to find a lasting solution to the Palestine/Israeli conflict.
The Presidency said the two countries also agreed to seek support for South Africa’s application of Observer Membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Accompanying Zuma were Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Minister of State Security David Mahlobo, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
The Saudi king, Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Al Saud, meanwhile awarded Zuma the First Order, the highest award given by the custodian of the two holy mosques of Makkah and Medina.