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Pretoria – South African Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe will hold the first round of bilateral consultations with the Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow-Up Affairs of the State of Qatar Mr Mohammed Abdullah Al-Rumaihi at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Camps Bay, Cape Town on Wednesday 04 February 2009.

The bilateral consultations between Deputy Minister van der Merwe and Mr Al-Rumaihi are held within the context of South Africa’s priority to consolidate relations with all countries of the Gulf.

Issues on the agenda of the consultations between Deputy Minister van der Merwe and Mr Al-Rumaihi are expected to include, among others:

  • review of bilateral relations;
  • developments in South Africa and Africa;
  • developments in the Middle East; and
  • economic relations in the fields of defence, science and technology, energy, arts and culture; education and status of bilateral agreements.

Bilateral Relations

South Africa and Qatar enjoy good bilateral relations dating back to 1994 and have strengthened over the years and Qatar is strategically of great importance to South Africa as it contains oil reserves of 15.21 billion barrels, while its natural gas reserves exceed 25 trillion cubic meters. The Amir of Qatar visited South Africa in 2002 and then President Mbeki visited Qatar in May 2008. The Amir remains the only Gulf Head of State to have visited South Africa.

Qatar Investment in South Africa and Africa

The Qatar Investment Authority has invested US$400 million in an investment fund, the PME Infrastructure Management Limited Fund. The fund is investing in infrastructure in Africa and is concentrating on the areas of transportation, communication and energy. According to the Government of Qatar, South Africa is the biggest beneficiary and of this fund which is considered to be the first investment by the Qatar Investment Authority in South Africa.

South African Investments in Qatar

South African companies have been fairly successful in obtaining contracts for major projects in Qatar. Sasol and Qatar Petroleum entered into a US$900 million joint venture gas-to-liquid facility at Ras Lafan. The plant was inaugurated on 6 June 2006 by the Minister of Minerals and Energy Bulelwa Sonjica.

Qatar hosted the Asian Games in December 2006 and several South African construction companies have benefited from infrastructure projects related to the Games. Foremost among these is Murray & Roberts, which finished construction of the multipurpose Khalifa Stadium in Doha in June 2005.

Genrec of South Africa was awarded a R200m contract to supply all the structural steel for the project. Future infrastructure and development projects in Qatar over the next few years are likely to be substantial. These include new oil and gas facilities, ports, an airport, several new roads, hotels, museums and residential compounds, all offering opportunities for South Africa.

In terms of trade relations, Qatar has traditionally enjoyed a healthy trade surplus, primarily due to its export of crude oil and petrochemicals to South Africa. The export of military equipment is not reflected in SARS trade statistics, but, according to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, these reached only R1.2m in 2005.

Bilateral Trade

Year

SA Exports

SA Imports

Total Trade

2002

R46 565 197

R 429 545 033

R 476 110 230

2003

R 55 087 759

R 344 187 993

R 399 275 752

2004

R 66 574 978

R 684 211 845

R 750 786 823

2005

R 78 509 086

R 911 948 887

R 990 457 973

2006

R 148 293 200

R 1 221 878 660

R 1 370 171 860

2007

R 261 882 837

R   744 130 520

R 1 006 013 357

Top five products imported and exported in 2007

Exports to Qatar

Imports from Qatar

Chemical products

Chemical products

Machinery and mechanical appliances

Plastic products

Transport equipment

Transport equipment

Base metals

Machinery

Animal products

Paper products

Tourism Statistics

Period

Visitors

Jan – Dec 2005

493

Jan – Dec 2006

407

Jan – Dec 2007

253


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