Communiqué of the Second Session of the Joint Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, held in Pretoria, on 21 and 22 October 2018

1. The Second Session of the Joint Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates was held in Pretoria on 21 and 22 October 2018. The Joint Commission was convened in accordance with the Agreement on the Establishment of a Joint Commission between the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, which was signed on 14 November 2011.

2. The Commission was co-chaired by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, respectively.

3. The Joint Commission was preceded by a Senior Officials’ Meeting, chaired by Professor Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General: Asia and Middle East, Department of International Relations and Cooperation and H E Mr Mohammed Sharaf, Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs.

4. The Sub-committees of the Joint Commission that participated in the Senior Officials’ Meeting, were:

Sub-Committee 1: Economic, Trade and Investment Cooperation

Sub-Committee 2: Political, Defence, Security and Interior

Sub-Committee 3: Transportation

Sub-Committee 4: Food Security

Sub-Committee 5: Science and Technology, Social Development, Tourism, and Arts and Culture

5. The Second Session of the Joint Commission took place in a year when the two countries celebrate the “Year of Mandela-Zayed” in a tribute to the two founding icons of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, who were both born in 1918. The two Statesmen not only shared a special bond of friendship, but also shared remarkable characteristics: their spiritualism, their vision, determination and hard work, their generosity at home and abroad, the way in which they devoted their lives to the service of their peoples in the creation of a better world for all.

6. The United Arab Emirates and South African delegations also included officials from technical Departments, which had separate meetings with their respective counterparts.

7. Before the commencement of the Joint Commission, Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan was received by Minister Sisulu for a tête-a-tête. The discussions centred on the strategic importance of the relationship between the Republic of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates and the successful outcome of the State Visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the United Arab Emirates on 13 July 2018. The Ministers discussed various issues of mutual interest to both sides including the economic potential and vast infrastructural development projects, following the UAE’s announcement of US$10 billion to South Africa during President Ramaphosa’s State Visit to the UAE, for the creation of a Joint Investment Fund. The two Ministers also expressed their satisfaction at the progress made during the visit of the South African Joint Technical Team to the United Arab Emirates from 2 – 4 October 2018, with regard to the establishment of the Joint Investment Fund.

8. The Ministers, furthermore, discussed issues of mutual concern in the Middle East region and on the African continent. This was particularly relevant in view of South Africa’s assumption of a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020.

9. The Co-chairs of the Senior Officials’ Meeting provided feedback to the Joint Commission on their deliberations, as reflected below:

10. Sub-Committee 1: Economic, Trade and Investment Cooperation

Both sides commended the increase in total bilateral trade between the United Arab Emirates and South Africa over the last few years. Both sides agreed to increase the volume of trade exchange and expand the scope of trade, investment and economic cooperation. Both sides expressed the need to expand two-way trade and investment relations.

Both sides discussed the successful outcomes of the State Visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the United Arab Emirates in July 2018, which included the hosting of a Business Forum, thereby creating the opportunity for business-to-business networking. Both sides expressed appreciation of the visit by the South African Investment Task Team to the United Arab Emirates in October 2018.

The United Arab Emirates side requested for progress on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which was initialled by both sides in 2007. The South African side provided a background on its investment policy reforms and agreed to provide the United Arab Emirates with the Protection of Investment Act, 2015 (Act No. 22 of 2015) and the subordinate legislation on the Regulations on Mediation Rules. The South African side agreed to hold technical discussions in the United Arab Emirates during November 2018. The dates will be communicated and confirmed through diplomatic channels.

The South African side is keen to look into the modalities of the creation of a Special Investment Fund in light of the US$10 billion that was announced by the United Arab Emirates during the State Visit of President Ramaphosa.

Both sides discussed the hosting of the World Expo 2020 in the United Arab Emirates and expressed the wish for collaboration by United Arab Emirates and South African private sector partners to explore opportunities in preparation for this global event. Both sides discussed the participation of South African companies in Expo 2020.

Both sides encouraged and welcomed the private sector in both countries to participate in exhibitions, events and forums. They welcomed the Business Forum taking place on the margins of the Joint Commission.

Both sides agreed to expand United Arab Emirates investment in targeted South African economic sectors, including: industrial, mining, agro-processing, services, infrastructure development and innovation. Both sides   also noted that there is a roadshow in promoting tourism by South African Tourism, planned to take place in United Arab Emirates in November 2018.

Both sides further expressed support for the strengthening of collaboration between the United Arab Emirates and South Africa in the development of the Blue Economy sectors of their respective countries. The “Blue Economy” was identified as a strategic sector for increasing economic growth and offers viable areas for cooperation and investment, such as shipbuilding and maintenance, ocean exploration, training and skills development as well as aqua culture.

The United Arab Emirates side proposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on financial services between the United Arab Emirates Central Bank and South African Reserve Bank. The South African side agreed to convey the United Arab Emirates proposal to the South African Reserve Bank for review and consideration.

The South African side recognises money laundering and illicit financial flows as a specific high risk to be prioritised. The South African side proposed to sign a MoU on anti-money laundering between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

The Agreement between the Governments of the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of South Africa on Co-operation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters (CMAA) is still underway. South Africa is keen to have face-to-face discussions.

Both sides agreed on collaboration in the Oil and Gas sector to identify possible investment opportunities in South Africa. Both sides encouraged collaborations in the Refinery and Petrochemical sectors, including possible downstream industry partnerships. Both sides further committed to collaboration in the Gas sector, including on Liquefied Natural Gas and infrastructure development.

Both sides noted that a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy is under discussion and will be finalized once the parties agree on it. Both sides agreed to facilitate the finalization of the MoU. Both sides agree to collaborate in the field of renewable energy through the following:

(a) Collaboration and knowledge-sharing of the United Arab Emirates experience in developing renewable energy specifically in the field of solar parks;

(b) Identifying potential collaboration opportunities in South Africa to be shared by the South African side;

(c) Identifying potential collaboration opportunities for greenfield projects inclusive of floating solar power and waste to energy.

The UAE side requested from the South African side information regarding the privatisation system and policies and to identify the projects available for investments to the United Arab Emirates companies.

Both sides have shown their desire to cooperate in the field of small and medium enterprises:

(a) Organising a trade mission of Emirati entrepreneurs with small and medium-sized enterprises to explore investment opportunities in targeted sectors of South Africa such as industry, transport, agriculture and tourism;

(b) Organising bilateral trade missions between the UAE SMEs and South African SMEs to discuss trade, service and industrial opportunities between the two countries;

(c) Organising collaboration on start-up, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Sub-Committee 2: Political, Defence, Security and Interior

The two sides exchanged views on their bilateral relationship and expressed the importance the two countries attach to their bilateral relationship. They agreed to continue working together to strengthen cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.

Both sides acknowledged the strong and strategic relationship that exists between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates and expressed their satisfaction with the hosting of the 2nd Session of the Joint Commission, which came in the wake of the successful State Visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the United Arab Emirates on 13 July 2018. They agreed that the hosting of the Joint Commission shortly after the State Visit, signified the elevation of the bilateral relations to a higher level. The Joint Commission will continue to serve as a valuable mechanism to strengthen cooperation and solidify greater future cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

In recalling the visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the United Arab Emirates in July 2018, the Parties reviewed the aspirations of their Governments to enhance political, economic and investment relations.

They also discussed developments in the Middle East, in particular the situation in and events related to Yemen, Palestine and Syria.

With regard to Yemen, the two sides agreed that the protection of civilians remained a key priority. They expressed concern about the outbreaks of diseases, largely due to the breakdown of health and sanitation services, as well as the inability of humanitarian workers to react to calls of assistance. The two sides called for a negotiated, inclusive, fair political settlement to the situation in Yemen. They agreed to support the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen to bring peace and welcome the intention of the UN Envoy to hold a round of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations on the Yemen crisis.

Both sides, furthermore, agreed that despite the ongoing operations in Hodiedah, a political solution, based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216 is the only viable way to end the conflict in Yemen.

With regard to Syria, both sides maintained that the Syrian crisis should be dealt with by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

With regard to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), both sides agreed that lasting, sustainable peace between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine should be sought. They remained in favour of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, based on the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, with the peoples of the two countries living side-by-side in two independent states.

Both Parties also discussed developments on the African continent, particularly continental integration. In this regard, the United Arab Emirates noted South Africa’s joining of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in July 2018. Once all 55 AU member countries join the Agreement, it will create a bloc with accumulative GDP of over US$2.5 trillion and a market of 1.2 billion people.

The Ministers discussed the forthcoming Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting that will be hosted by South Africa in Durban on 2 November 2018. Minister Sisulu expressed her appreciation towards Sheikh Abdullah al Nahyan for the excellent cooperation that exists between the two countries in the IORA Troika, with the United Arab Emirates currently serving as Vice Chair.

Both Parties agreed to explore possible cooperation in the areas of security, including regional security, narco-trafficking, human trafficking, disaster and risk management, international organised crime, maritime safety, as well as information exchange, terrorism and extremism.

Both sides expressed their appreciation for the level of cooperation that exits within the framework of the Comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the United Arab Emirates on Police Cooperation. The MoU contains a mechanism for determining and developing further/other areas and forms of police cooperation.

Home Affairs

The Parties discussed the facilitation of people movement between the two countries. Negotiations are taking place regarding the conclusion of a visa exemption agreement for diplomatic, official/special passport holders.

The Parties recalled the statement by the Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa, in which it was indicated that the United Arab Emirates was one of nine counties in the Middle East with whom negotiations are being finalised to conclude a visa waiver for ordinary passport holders.

Sub-Committee 3: Transportation

Air Services Agreement in Civil Aviation

The United Arab Emirates side requested that the South African side have a mandate for air services consultations during the International Civil Aviation Air Services Agreement Negotiations (ICAN) 2018 to engage in the Air Services Agreement and approve the submitted requirements.

The South African side noted the request and will submit the requirements in order to seek a mandate from the Minister.

Maritime Transport

The United Arab Emirates side indicated that Dubai Ports World is looking for opportunities in ports, logistics and free trade zones in South Africa.

Sub-Committee 4: Food Security

Following the last Sub-Committee Meeting on Food Security, the South African side reiterated its position on market access for the following commodities:

  • Citrus;
  • Live-stock exporting;
  • Dairy;
  • Animal feed and maize

The SA side will share a draft Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Food Safety.

The United Arab Emirates side informed that Al Dahra will lead the agricultural investment drive in South Africa with the Ministry of Agriculture in South Africa. The initial request from Al Dahra is to secure land (long term leasing) to cultivate and produce animal feed and wheat.

Sub-Committee 5: Science and Technology, Social Development, Tourism, Education, Arts and Culture

Social Development

The Parties expressed their readiness to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Social Development cooperation. The cooperation will focus on early childhood intervention, research and social studies, teenager development, services to person with disabilities, amongst other areas of mutual interest. A Joint Working Group will be established after the signature of the MoU aimed at developing a programme of action to implement all agreed areas of cooperation. Both sides agreed to priorities the completion of the MoU.


A draft MoU is under consideration by the South African side and as soon as all legal processes are finalised, the MoU will be ready for signature. Both sides emphasised the urgency of bringing the MoU to finality. In the meantime, both sides have agreed to invite each other to the tourism events that will be organised in the future to strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, such as the sharing of best practices workshop, participation in events such as Africa Travel Indaba, and Arabian Travel Market United Arab Emirates and other events in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Higher Education

A MoU on cooperation in Higher Education is also in the latter stages of being finalised. The MoU will be aimed at expanding cooperation links in the higher education sector. Both sides have also agreed to accelerate processes towards the finalisation of the draft MoU.

Arts and Culture

A draft cooperation agreement was exchanged with the United Arab Emirates side and their legal input is being awaited. Both sides will expedite the processes towards the completion of the legal scrutiny of the draft agreement. Broadly, the areas that have been suggested are amongst others: - learn from each other’s institutional arrangements pertaining to language, arts and other areas of mutual interests.

Science and Technology

Both sides noted with appreciation the development of scientific links between the two countries through the recent signing of a MoU in the Exploration and Use of Space for Peaceful Purposes.  – signed in June 2018. The cooperation will focus on technical exchanges, development of space industries and joint hosting of space events. This development paves the way for deepening of cooperation in other field of mutual interests in science, technology and innovation. Both sides broadly, mentioned areas such as renewable energy, research water management, ICT and human capital development areas. In this regard, the South African side extended an invitation to the United Arab Emirates to send a technical delegation to gain insights on the planning and organisation of the South African National System of Innovation.  Such a visit will serve to identify concrete areas of cooperation to which both sides will pursue. Lastly, the South African side extended an invite to the United Arab Emirates side to visit the Science Forum South Africa which is a leading forum in the continent in science, technology and innovation. An official invitation will be extended in this regard.

Both Co-Chairs expressed appreciation on the strides made thus far in building strong cooperation links on a variety of fields. The Co-Chairs further encouraged all parties present to double their efforts in bringing to finality the various draft MoU’s in order to begin with measures aimed at implementation.

The Sub-committees were guided by the following principles:

  • Assess the current areas of cooperation and the implementation status thereof,
  • Identify key areas of future cooperation,
  • Determine deliverable projects/programmes that are time-bound and outcomes based,
  • Stipulate/identify responsible individuals/entities/focal points for both countries in order to secure implementation,
  • Identify challenges if any and propose possible solutions and high-level political intervention if required, and
  • Each Sub-committee is to identify at least one or two achievable projects within the short term.

11. Status of Bilateral Agreements

The United Arab Emirates and South Africa concluded the Extradition Treaty and the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in September 2018. The Joint Commission, furthermore, provided the opportunity for the two countries to sign an Agreements on cooperation in the field of social development. Both parties committed themselves to finalising all outstanding agreements so as to ensure that appropriate legal frameworks are created to ensure enhanced cooperation in various fields.

12. Third Session of the Joint Commission

It was agreed that the Joint Commission should be held on an annual basis. The Third Session will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates at a date to be determined through diplomatic channels.

13. Closing

The delegation from the United Arab Emirates expressed their sincere gratitude towards the Government of South Africa for the hospitality extended to their delegation.

14. Joint Communiqué Second Session of the Joint Commission

The Joint Communiqué of the Second Session of the Joint Commission between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of South Africa was signed in Pretoria on 22 October 2018.

………………………………….                            ………………………………….
Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan         H E Lindiwe Sisulu
Minister of Foreign Affairs and               Minister of International Relations International Cooperation                                        and Cooperation Republic of
United Arab Emirates                           South Africa 


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