SA, UAE strengthen bilateral relations

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The second session of the Joint Commission between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) saw the two countries pledge to strengthen bilateral relations in areas of infrastructure and the economy.

The Joint Commission, which was held in Pretoria on 21 and 22 October 2018, was co-chaired by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and her UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The commission was preceded by a senior officials’ meeting which saw sub-committees engage on areas of economics, trade and investment cooperation, politics, security, transportation, food security, science and technology, social development, arts and culture.

Before the Joint Commission, Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan was received by Sisulu for a tête-a-tête.

“The discussions centred on the strategic importance of the relationship between the Republic of South Africa and the UAE and the successful outcome of the state visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the United Arab Emirates on 13 July 2018,” said Sisulu.

An agreement on cooperation in the area of social development between South Africa and the UAE was signed. The cooperation will focus on early childhood intervention, research and social studies, teenager development, services to person with disabilities, among other areas of mutual interest.

The Ministers discussed various issues of mutual interest to both sides including the economic potential and vast infrastructural development projects, following the UAE’s announcement of US$10 billion to South Africa during President Ramaphosa’s State Visit to the UAE, for the creation of a Joint Investment Fund.

“The $10 billion investment into South Africa can only be the beginning of much work,” said the UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The two Ministers also expressed satisfaction at the progress made during the visit of the South African Joint Technical Team to the UAE earlier in October 2018, with regard to the establishment of the Joint Investment Fund.

Economic, Trade and Investment Cooperation


On economic, trade and investment cooperation, both sides commended the increase in total bilateral trade between the UAE and South Africa over the last few years. They agreed to increase the volume of trade exchange and expand the scope of trade, investment and economic cooperation. 

The two countries agreed to expand UAE investment in targeted South African economic sectors such as industrial, mining, agro-processing, services, infrastructure development and innovation.

A planned roadshow promoting tourism by South African Tourism is set to take place in UAE in November 2018.

Further commitments were made to collaborate in the gas sector, including on Liquefied Natural Gas and infrastructure development.

Sisulu said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy is under discussion and will be finalised once the parties agree on it. Both countries agreed to facilitate the finalisation of the MoU.

Both sides agreed to collaborate in the field of renewable energy through collaboration and knowledge-sharing of the UAE experience in developing renewable energy specifically in the field of solar parks; identifying potential collaboration opportunities in South Africa to be shared by the South African side and identifying potential collaboration opportunities for greenfield projects inclusive of floating solar power and waste to energy.

In addition, the two countries expressed a desire to cooperate in the field of small and medium enterprises.

This cooperation, will include among others, organising a trade mission of Emirati entrepreneurs with small and medium-sized enterprises to explore investment opportunities in targeted sectors of South Africa such as industry, transport, agriculture and tourism.

Defence and Security 

On defence and security, the parties discussed negotiations regarding the conclusion of a visa exemption agreement for diplomatic, special passport holders.

“We saw 80 000 South Africans who travelled to the UAE. We hope this will grow once the visa waiver between the two countries is finalised,” said the UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan.

In closing discussions, it was agreed that the commission should be held on an annual basis. The third session will be hosted in the UAE at a date to be determined through diplomatic channels. –