''Non-oil foreign trade between the two countries saw a marked increase of 23 percent last year to US$ 3.2 billion from US$ 2.6 billion in 2016 boosted by UAE re-exports to South Africa which also increased its exports to the UAE,'' said Al Mansouri while delivering the keynote address at the UAE-South Africa Business Forum, held at the Emirates Palace today, in the presence of Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, and an audience of Emirati and South African businessmen and investors.
During the first five months of 2018, he said, non-oil trade between the two friendly countries rose slightly to US$ 1.2 billion from US$ 1.1 billion for the corresponding period last year.
''We expect further improvement and growth in the non-oil trade for the rest of the year,'' Al Mansouri noted.
Highlighting promising prospects for dynamic trade relations, Al Mansouri noted to tremendous opportunities to increase trade exchange in jewelry and precious metals, petrochemicals and other premium products of regional and international reputation.
The UAE minister called on South African business community to harness the UAE's economic strengths and attractions as a key export gateway to Middle East and Asia, a favourable, strategic hub for foreign direct investment, a trade centre for re-exports and modern logistic and port services, flexible investment climate and ultra-modern infrastructure.
These facilities and incentives, he added, can give South African investors easy access to a major consumer market that worth US$7.6 trillion with nearly billion people.
''The UAE flexible economic model under the Vision 2021, which aspires to build a world competitive, diversified and knowledge and innovation-driven economy, can open the door for a prosperous Emirati-South African trade and investment cooperation,'' he said.
Al Mansouri thanked South Africa for confirming its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, which will provide both the public and private sectors with a global platform to market and promote South African trade and investment and explore opportunities to do business with their UAE counterparts.
On the civil aviation and air transport cooperation, the minister called for liberalisation of the sector in order to increase trade, investment, tourist and cultural exchange.
Internationally, the minister congratulated South Africa for being elected by the United Nations General Assembly to serve on the UN Security Council for the term 2019-20 as a non-permanent member. The UAE - in its capacity as deputy president of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) - will support South Africa during its presidency of the group between 2017 - 2019.
Addressing the business gathering, President Ramaphosa said the forum laid the groundwork for a strong investment relations between the two countries across various sectors.
Mohammed Thani Al Rumaith, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, spoke about efforts exerted by the chamber to open up new prospects for greater economic, investment and trade cooperation between the two countries.
''The Abu Dhabi Chamber is exerting hard efforts to develop and strengthen economic cooperation with all friendly and sisterly countries. I would like to seize the opportunity of this visit to emphasise on the outstanding and distinguished bilateral relations between the UAE and South Africa and on the need to strengthen such relations, especially the economic ones, and to push for more trade exchange as well as opening wider investment doors before Emirati and South African businessmen and investors.
''Trade sector in our country, especially in Abu Dhabi, enjoys long experience and great capabilities as well as promising investment opportunities, which would widen the prospects of joint cooperation with companies and establishments from South Africa.''
He further explained, “The Abu Dhabi Chamber offers a number of services and facilities for companies desirous of investing, operating and setting up projects in Abu Dhabi considering our distinguished relations with South Africa and our desire to extend bridges of economic and investment cooperation between the two countries.”
The forum followed the holding of the first investment workshop on 24 and 25 April in Pretoria.