South Africa-UAE trade bouncing back to pre-COVID-19 growth path: Official

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Saa'd Cachalia
In Picture: HE Saa'd Cachalia, the South African Ambassador to the UAE

Mr. Saa’d Cachalia, the South African Ambassador to the UAE, has expressed his delight at the recovering UAE-South Africa bilateral trade stating that business between the two countries is bouncing back to the pre-COVID growth trajectory, as 2021 trade figures are set to exceed 2020’s. 

Speaking to the UAE’s official news bureau, Emirates News Agency (WAM), the South African diplomat remarked that, “Our trade has grown tremendously despite COVID-19. The bilateral trade volumes during the first three quarters of 2021 [from January to September] have already covered around 84.15 percent of the total volumes during 2020. Therefore, we look forward to exceeding the 2020 trade figures significantly by the end of 2021.”

Mr. Cachalia pointed out that trade between the two countries stood at $2.97 billion in 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021 have already witnessed trade volumes worth $2.71 billion, which aggregated to 84.15 percent of the 2020 trade.

Referring to the pre-pandemic upward trajectory between 2017-2019, the South African Ambassador to the UAE remarked that the UAE-South Africa trade of $2.57 billion in 2017 increased 12.69 percent to $2.91 billion in 2018, then further surged 23.36 percent to $3.59 billion in 2019.

Mr. Cachalia explained that while there was a decline in trade to $2.98 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19, the positive trend in the first three quarters of 2021 has proved the resilience of the South Africa-UAE economic relations.

While oil remains a major import product for South Africa from the UAE, the bilateral trade also consists of precious metals, iron, steel and mineral products, prepared foodstuffs, chemicals, machinery, aircraft and vessels, live animals, plastic, rubber and textiles.

“Our bilateral relations have been consistently growing. We support one another on many issues. We collaborate on different matters in the international arena, including the issues around climate change,” the South African Ambassador responded further signifying that the mega event, Expo 2020 Dubai has opened more opportunities that will further strengthen the robust bilateral relations.

“It is an ideal opportunity for us to start reconnecting with not only the UAE but the entire world. The Expo has brought in many nations to the UAE, and we have an ideal opportunity to start meeting people from different parts of the world after the pandemic,” the envoy added.

While remarking that there are around 100,000 South Africans living in the UAE, the South African official stated that “They are involved in almost all sectors in the UAE, such as services, finance, engineering, manufacturing and many more.”

Related: UAE’s DMCC explores ways to boost bilateral trade with Colombia


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