The trade volume between Qatar and South Africa has increased by 70 percent during the post-blockade period as a result of emerging market opportunities and strong bilateral relations, said Ambassador of South Africa to Qatar, Faizel Moosa.
“A large portion of bilateral trade volume is due to increased import of food products from South Africa to Qatar. I do believe that Qatar sees Africa as an important trading partner and South African in particular. We do see an increase in the trade volume between the countries,” Faizel Moosa told The Peninsula in an interview.
The ambassador said that post blockade time had seen a huge increase in bilateral trade volume largely on part of imports into Qatar from South Africa. “We have seen a 70 percent increase from pre-blockade to post blockade.”
South Africa exports fresh fruit and vegetables, agro-processed food products and other items to Qatar. At present, South Africa is seeking to introduce meat and livestock products in the Qatari market as well as opening a meat processing facility here.
To formalize the efforts both countries are likely to sign a bilateral animal health agreement, which will ease trade in live animals and chilled meat.
“There has been a lot of increase in the import of agro-processed products into Qatar. Now people will see more South African meat on the shelves. There are talks between a South African company and Qatar, to put up a meat processing facility here with cold storage facilities,” said Moosa.
“There has been a ban on South African meat here in Qatar which has been lifted very recently. That opens the gate for us to trade much more than before. From Widam, the Qatari company for meat and livestock trading side for instance, we had an inquiry for quite a large number of live animals as well as chilled meat. Representatives of Widham may visit South Africa in September or early October to go and inspect our farms, abattoirs and will meet suppliers,” he added.
Also, South Africa is seeking for Qatari investment in the oil and gas sector and expecting a prominent representation by Qatar at the upcoming International Investor Conference of the South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa in Johannesburg in October, according to Moosa.
Taking an important step in enhancing the bilateral relationship in trade, business and other areas, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to visit Qatar.
“There is an intention for the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to come to Qatar before the end of this year. We are confident that our president will be coming soon accompanied by government ministers, officials and South African captains of industry,” said Moosa.
Tourism and business travel between Qatar and South Africa, is another sector which has been enhanced in recent years. The number of people traveling from Qatar to South Africa has increased and is likely to increase by 30 percent this year, compared to 2017.
“The Number of people traveling from Qatar to South Africa has seen a very healthy increase as well. In the first six months of this year we received 1136 visa applications, of which 40 percent are Qataris. About 380 Qataris have gone in the first six months to South Africa. Among that 10 percent traveled for business and the others for tourism.
Last year the numbers were about 1800 in total. There are indications that there will be a 30 percent increase in tourism and business travel to South Africa this year,” said Moosa.
The South African embassy is making efforts to further promote tourism among people in Qatar. In this regard a delegation from the South African Tourism Authority will soon visit Qatar and meet with tour operators and take them on a familiarisation trip to show what South Africa has to offer for tourists.
The recent decision by Qatar to grant on-arrival visas for South African nationals has made a huge impact on the number of people choosing Qatar as a tourist destination.
“On-arrival visa scheme has made it obviously much easier for South Africans to come here. Many of them see Qatar as an option for tourism.”
On 2022 FIFA World Cup, the ambassador said: “We are willing and eager to share our 2010 World Cup experience with Qatar. Our biggest challenge was security and we proved to the world that South Africa had a first class World Cup without any incident. We want to bring our world cup experience here and share it with the Supreme Committee. We want to bring a delegation to do a presentation for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy on legacy around our preparations for security,” said Moosa.
He said that the embassy would also soon launch a campaign to encourage the South African expat community in Qatar to be part of the volunteer core for the Qatar World Cup in 2022. According to Moosa, Qatar is well advanced in its preparations to host the World Cup in 2022 and would give fans an exceptional experience.
To a question, the ambassador said that approximately 6,500 South Africans were working in different sectors in Qatar.