Tuesday 10, May 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry during its recent meetings held in Johannesburg, South Africa, called upon the public and private sectors of the country to support enhancement of UAE investments into the South African market.

During its trade mission to South Africa, Dubai Chamber urged its trading partners from the public and private sectors as well as the South African Chambers of Commerce to coordinate efforts to achieve the common interests and to work towards stimulating economic partnerships between the business communities in Dubai and South Africa.

A panel discussion with the Public Sector

During his speech on the side-lines of the panel discussion with the public sector, H.E. Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber, stated that the main objective of the Chamber delegation is to find solutions to challenges that Dubai’s business community might face in their investments to South Africa and to work towards enhancing trade cooperation between the two sides.

“Our very presence here is to get precise and accurate information about the methods and procedures for doing business in South Africa and to understand the prevailing laws and regulations pertaining to taxes, arable land ownership, money movement, and to find out the most important investment sectors as well as to support reciprocal trade flow between the two countries,” said H.E. Al Ghurair.

The Chairman of Dubai Chamber further stated that South Africa ranked 33rd on the list of Dubai’s trading partners, with non-oil trade between Dubai and South Africa in 2015 reaching to AED 8.4 billion ($2.3 billion) up from AED 5.5 billion in 2010, while the Chamber currently has 106 South African businesses among its members as 51 companies joined in last year.

H.E. Al Ghurair lauded the support provided by the UAE Embassy in Pretoria for facilitating the activities of the trade mission and for their support to the private sector in overcoming obstacles faced by the UAE investors.

The panel in particular discussed the challenges faced by UAE businesses which included land ownership, transfer of funds, taxes and shortage of power.

On his part, H.E. Hamad Hareb Alhabsi, UAE Ambassador to South Africa, stressed on the speeding up of the process of establishing a joint business council between the UAE and South Africa, which was proposed by the UAE in 2010 as well as to finalise the legislation on the protection of investments for the mutual benefit of both the friendly countries.

Meeting with Standard Bank

In order to open a wider door of opportunities for Dubai businesses, the Chamber delegation also held a meeting with Standard Bank, which is one of the largest banks in Africa, to further explore investment opportunities and to better understand the business environment prevailing in the country.

During the meeting, Rassem Zok, CEO, Middle East and North Africa, Standard Bank Group, informed about the bank’s presence at DIFC which he said is a hub for Middle East business while stressing on supporting the efforts of Dubai Chamber in connecting the Gulf region to the continent through its various Africa related initiatives.

“Our role is to facilitate and guide two-way investments as we see continuing synergies between the Chamber’s Africa strategy and our business model. We are delighted with the growth of those flows from Dubai and particularly impressed with the infrastructure and logistics support that the city offers, making it a very important gateway into Africa,” he said.

Goolam Ballim, Chief Economist, Head: Standard Bank Research, Standard Bank Group, said that lower commodity prices impacts economic growth in South Africa, which was currently assessed as BBB- according to the Standard & Poor’s ratings. He informed that for each 1% growth in the GDP of South Africa there is a 0.6 to 0.7% of GDP growth in neighbouring countries while every 1% growth in fixed investment cycles in China, leads to the 0.6-0.8% in the export business cycles in sub-Saharan African communities.

A panel discussion with the private sector

A large number of private sector representatives attended the open dialogue and expressed their desire to work together with UAE businesses and to take their bilateral ties to a higher level. During this session, the Chamber delegation held over 50 bilateral meetings with representatives of various South African economic sectors as they discussed joint economic partnerships and the opportunities offered by the country’s leading business sectors.

The discussions focussed around power, renewable energy, light industry, transport generation, especially railway sectors, housing both urban and rural, and tourism as well as Islamic finance, mining and agriculture as South Africa is seeking investments in agri-business to raise food security in the continent. Also, as the foreign direct investment in the agriculture sector in the African continent is now 72% lower from what it was 20 years ago.

Greater coordination with the South African chambers of commerce

In its efforts to support the emirate’s business community and to enhance its cooperation ties with South African chambers of commerce, Dubai Chamber organised a meeting with a number of prominent chambers of commerce including Johannesburg, Randburg, Minara, Zambia, and most notably the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

H.E. Alan Mukoki, CEO, South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, informed that the Chamber enjoys a membership of about 50 local chambers and was open to cooperation with Dubai Chamber to encourage the emirate’s businesses to invest in his country as he also lauded Dubai’s unique public and private sector partnership which he said can serve as a model for his country.

The Chamber officials agreed on sharing of information on trade legislations and the mechanisms and procedures for trade to offer smart services to the business community besides exchanging trade delegation and attending each other’s activities and events, while jointly working to overcome any challenges and obstacles to smooth trade between the two sides.