SA, Qatar to discuss efforts to ensure Middle East conflict does not escalate
President Cyril Ramaphosa is on a two-day state visit to Qatar to strengthen trade and investment and celebrate diplomatic ties.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the visit followed an invitation from Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“During their meeting President Ramaphosa and his highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani are expected to deliberate on geopolitical issues currently impacting the world.
“Both parties are committed to enhancing their economic ties and focusing on improving economic relations including trade, investment, and tourism,” Magwenya said.
He said both governments share deep concern regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas, notably the unfolding human catastrophe in Palestine, violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, the large-scale loss of life and ongoing hostilities, especially in Gaza.
“The leaders will discuss respective efforts to ensure the conflict does not escalate to other parts of the region and that a peaceful resolution is found,” he said.
South Africa has welcomed Qatar’s mediation efforts in the crisis.
When he arrived on Tuesday evening, Ramaphosa was welcomed by Qatar’s state minister of foreign affairs Soltan bin Saad-al Muraikhi, international relations minister Naledi Pandor and South Africa’s ambassador to Qatar Ghulam Asmal at Hammad International Airport in Doha.
The visit occurs in the context of three decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries. They will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations on May 11 2024.
Magwenya said last year Qatar became SA’s fifth-largest trading partner in the Middle East.
“There is significant potential for further economic co-operation between the two countries. South Africa exported $206m (R3.7bn) worth of trade to Qatar in 2022.
“The bulk of exports were in the manufacturing sector, accounting for about 56% of total exports. South Africa has witnessed a surge in its imports from Qatar between 2017 and 2022, primarily due to the import of petroleum oils,” he said.
South African imports from Qatar amounted to $252m (R4.6bn) in 2022, he said.
Ramaphosa will be joined by a high-level business delegation and is expected to engage the Qatari business community to explore opportunities for co-operation in areas such as the creative industries, energy, mining, agro-processing, retail, healthcare, tourism and ship building.
“South Africa is a significant investor in Qatar, especially in the petrochemical-related sector, with a total investment of approximately $8.7bn (R158bn).”
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