Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa will undertake a state visit to Qatar on Wednesday at the invitation of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar. This will be his first visit as president of South Africa to the state of Qatar.
Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson for the president, says the visit takes place “in the context of three decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations on 11 May 2024”.
“The program will include meetings with Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and high-level business engagements.
“During their meeting, Ramaphosa and Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will deliberate on various geopolitical issues currently affecting the world,” says Magwenya.
Ramaphosa will apparently be accompanied by the ministers of international relations and cooperation, as well as trade, industry and competition; agriculture, land reform and rural development; mineral resources and energy; defense; basic education and the minister in the presidency.
Magwenya says both countries are committed to strengthening their economic ties and focusing on improving economic relations, including trade, investment and tourism.
“Qatar has become South Africa’s fifth largest trading partner in the Middle East in 2022 and there is considerable potential for further economic cooperation between the two countries.
“South Africa exported trade products worth $206 million to Qatar in 2022. The largest part of that was in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 56% of overall exports.
“South Africa experienced a surge in its imports from Qatar between 2017 and 2022, mainly due to the import of petroleum oil. South African imports from Qatar amounted to $252 million in 2022,” says Magwenya.
He says the president will also meet with high-level business experts during his visit and is expected to engage the Qatari business community to explore opportunities for cooperation in areas such as creative industries, energy, mining, agricultural processing, retail, healthcare, tourism and shipbuilding.
“South Africa is a significant investor in Qatar, particularly in the petrochemical-related sector, with an overall investment of approximately $8.7 billion.
“Sasol has a 49% shareholding in Qatar Petroleum and has established ORYX GTL, the world’s first gas-to-liquids plant on a commercial scale. Sasol’s GTL technology is used in ORYX GTL to convert natural gas into liquid fuels and chemical products.”
Magwenya says the governments of South Africa and Qatar also share a deep concern about the conflict, “especially the unfolding human disaster in Palestine, violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, the large-scale loss of life and the ongoing hostilities, especially in Gaza”.
“The leaders will discuss various efforts to ensure that the conflict does not spread to other parts of the region and that a peaceful solution is found.
“South Africa also welcomes Qatar’s mediation efforts in this crisis,” says Magwenya.