Your Excellency, Mahash Saeed Salem Mahash Alhameli, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to South Africa,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Republic of Congo H E Mr M'Poko, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Kuwait H E Mr Al-Oqab
Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Senior Government Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure, on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, to join the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates in the celebration of your 46th National Day. The United Arab Emirates has so much to celebrate and such a proud history to honour.
South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have developed excellent bilateral political and economic relations since formal diplomatic ties were first established in 1994. The UAE is the main importing partner of South African goods within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with many South African companies benefitting from opportunities in the UAE in a variety of sectors.
The Working Visit by President Zuma to the UAE in 2016 consolidated and further elevated our bilateral relations towards a comprehensive strategic partnership. South Africa is pleased that the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) has provided the two countries with the opportunity to advance our relations on various issues of mutual interest in a structured and systematic manner.
We have utilised the opportunities for economic cooperation and infrastructural development projects but there is a vast range of possibilities still to be explored in both our countries as well as on the African continent. The next session of the Joint Ministerial Commission is planned for the first half of 2018 and will take place in South Africa. Each session of this mechanism brings with it cause for celebration because the links between our peoples have grown in unprecedented ways.
Today we have more than eight flights per day between South Africa and the UAE and negotiations are on-going for additional flights.
In 2016, total trade between our two countries was R35 billion. It was an increase of 26% from 2015. On the investment front, we are pleased with the investment flows between the two countries which have grown exponentially since 2011. More than 130 South African companies are represented in the UAE where they have operations in the construction, engineering, retail and hospitality industries.
Our companies are also looking forward to participating in the DUBAI 2020 EXPO to identify and present further opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
South Africa and the United Arab Emirates have a lot in common. As developing nations we are striving to industrialise our economies, diversify our trade with other nations of the world and beneficiate our mineral resources instead of simply trading in raw materials as we have been doing over the years. We strongly support collaborative endeavours in other fields, such as the joint venture between Tawazun Dynamics and Denel Dynamics.
The UAE has made impressive progress in developing its Oceans Economy, which is something South Africa has also identified as a potential driver of growth and development. With the UAE as a partner, we are confident that our Operation Phakisa will transform our coastline of 3 000 kilometres into an engine of national growth, but also help Africa to turn the Indian and Atlantic oceans into what the Gulf has become to the UAE and its region.
We look forward to exchanging information and technology in the broader marine economy and in particular ship building, marine engineering, port management, fisheries and aquaculture with you and with other countries in the region, as well as with the developed nations of the world.
South Africa has adopted the National Development Plan (NDP), a roadmap for our development towards the year 2030. It also guides us on the type of partnerships we need to cultivate and develop to make the vision of the NDP a reality. In this regard, the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 (UAE’s 2030 Development Programme) provides an opportunity for us to partner with the UAE in realising our collective objective of building sustainable economies by 2030.
We have followed with great interest the important regional position of the UAE and the constructive contribution to multilateral fora. South Africa and the UAE maintain similar views on many international issues. Our collaboration that exists in multilateral fora and reciprocal support in areas such as maritime and human rights is indicative of our close cooperation.
South Africa believes that conflicts among nations have the best prospects for lasting resolution if this is reached through inclusive and unconditional dialogue. We are ready to make our contribution in this respect.
Excellency, Ambassador Mahash Alhameli, Ladies and Gentlemen
With these few words, it is now my great honour to congratulate the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Royal Highness Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the people of the UAE, on your special day of celebration and to wish you many more years of success and prosperity.
I thank you.