By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
South Africa’s varied range of leisure activities have started attracting Qataris, making it a potential tourist destination for Qatar and its GCC neighbours, South African ambassador Sa’ad Cachalia has said.
The ambassador, who accompanied a South African trade delegation to the Qatar Chamber yesterday, said South Africa and Qatar share “a good political relationship but this needs to be translated into further co-operation at levels of trade.”
Cachalia said South Africa’s top exports to Qatar in 2014 comprise of aircraft, fruits, and motor vehicles, among others, and totalled $39,454,012, while imports such as petroleum oils and ammonia, among others reached $304,515,161.
“We have large exports of energy from Qatar and our trade figures are steadily increasing … but if we break down the sectors of trade between the two countries, we’re looking at the leisure industry and we’re beginning to see Qataris taking advantage of what South Africa has to offer such as extreme sports, safari, and diving, among others,” Cachalia said.
He noted that South Africa has a solid meat industry and the government is looking towards enhancing this sector to increase the export of meat to Qatar.
“In terms of food, we are Africa’s largest producer of fresh fruit and meat, and this is an area that we want to break in, particularly meat. South Africa has a world-class meat and fruit industry. We are beginning to see a stream of fruit and some meat entering Qatar but we want to increase this,” he said, adding: “There may be certain tariff barriers and this is what our government wants to unlock, particularly the export of South African meat to Qatar.”
As a manufacturer for Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, and BMW, Cachalia said South Africa has a strong R&D sector and could also help Qatar in developing its own
He said South Africa has a solid industrial base, which makes it an ideal investment destination for Qatari businessmen, specifically in the fields of mining, manufacturing, automobile, aerospace, food, farming, and textiles.
He said the double taxation and protection of investments agreement signed by the South African government and HE the Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi in March “has opened the door and signified that both countries are good and safe places to do investments.”
“Eight officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, who are part of the delegation, will meet with the Qatar Financial Centre and Doha Bank to establish the groundwork that is necessary to encourage trade between the two countries.
“Early next year will be the fifth bilateral consultations between South Africa and Qatar and hopefully we will get some solid agreements signed in the fields of education, health, and food
manufacturing,” he said.
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