The Middle East presents abundant export opportunities for South African products and services. This was said by the Chief Director of Export Promotion at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Mr Joseph Senona. Senona was speaking during a virtual South Africa-Middle East Trade and Export Opportunities Dialogue hosted by the dtic in partnership with the Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC), Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) and Brand South Africa today.

According to Senona, there is an interest in South African products as far as the Middle East is concerned and South Africa views the Middle East as a strategic market for the South African products. He added that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have seen the trend to be pointing to a high demand for South African products and alongside that they have noticed that these are countries that are liberalised and tend to import their products and services from the rest of the world. Against this background, Senona said they are able to see the kind of demand they have by the way they are importing.

“We have noted that Saudi Arabia is high in the radar in terms of importing from the world and we have also noted they tend to focus more on the manufacturers in terms of demand and specifically here we are looking at electronics, television, communication equipment and machinery. These are the products from manufacturing perspective we see that there is actually a realistic export opportunity. This is over and above the traditional main exports being natural and mineral products,” said Senona.

Senona highlighted that as far as the interventions are concerned; government wants to pursue the market expansion, focus on market penetration as well as market development, product diversification, meaning the focus will not only be on continuing to export mineral products to the Middle East but to penetrate even deeper and secure markets expansion for value added products and services.

“With Saudi Arabia for example, we have noted that there is high demand for agricultural products, and forestry related products and services, as well as food and other agro processing products. There is increasing demand in terms of clothing and textile, including leather products,  wood and wood products, defence and aerospace and the oceans industry imports growing rapidly. These are the products they are looking to import and these are mostly the products in which we have supply capacity and prioritise in as far as our export promotion interventions are concerned. Importantly, we capitalise on these as there is a realistic export potential,” said Senona.

Senona reiterated that South Africa considers the Middle as a strategic market and further said a recent study indicated that the market presents over $2 billion worth of export potential for South Africa.

“About 200 products and services that are coming from South Africa that we have comparative advantage in which we have noted they have a potential to be exported to Saudi Arabia, these number signifies R 170 billion annual worth of exports if we are able to succeed in capitalising and tapping into this market. The UAE comes in at about 180 products and services  that are produced in South Africa and have an export potential worth about R95 billion” said Senona.

According to Senona, being able to capitalise on these opportunities and realising those benefits will be of strategic interest as SA re-industrialises the country, export orientation becomes a key component of that and in the context of the globalisation and compressed market we encourage companies not only consider the domestic market but also look at expanding into global markets where there is demand, and where SA companies have comparative and competitive advantage.

“In order to expand into these markets, we deploy the Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) Scheme to partially compensate the emerging exporters that are looking for export opportunities abroad and to recruit new foreign direct investment into the country. We look at supporting their marketing and promotional activities in the form of participating in trade exhibition, trade and selling missions across the world. We focus on enhancing their marketing competitiveness which gives emerging exporters an advantage by supporting their marketing as well as export promotion activities when they go into the strategic markets such as the Middle East and the rest of the world, where we see there is potential for us to realise exports benefits that will ultimately benefits the export revenue for the country.

“Bilateral trade with the Middle East has been encouraging over the years, and we have made a good choice to continue with market expansion in the region. We remain committed in providing support for emerging exporters to fully exploit export opportunities in that region,” said Senona.

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
Tel: (012) 394 1643
Mobile: 079 5083 457
WhatsApp: 074 2998 512
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)

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