The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is vital for expanding SA's agricultural exports

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is vital for expanding SA's agricultural exports

On February 26, we participated in South Africa-Saudia Arabia Agricultural Ministers engagements in Pretoria. The sessions focused on deepening trade, specifically in beef, sugar, and grains, and investment opportunities within South African agriculture and agro-processing sectors. These are areas the Saudi authorities and businesses wanted to explore.

Some of our members, like Beefmaster Group (Pty) Ltd, Sparta Beef, Red Meat Industry Services (and friends at KARAN BEEF, GRAIN SA/GRAAN SA and BERLIN BEEF) made valuable inputs to the meeting.

In further engagements, horticulture, a pillar of our agricultural trade, will be on the table for deepening trade.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strategic agricultural export market, and it is fitting that South Africa explores agricultural trade and investment possibilities.

Over the past five years, Saudi Arabia imported, on average, about $20 billion of agricultural products. The dominant suppliers of farm products to Saudi Arabia are Brazil, India, the US, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, France, Turkey and Egypt.

The top imported agricultural products were meat and edible offal, rice, barley, milk and cream, cigars, cheese, live sheep and goats, sugar cane, maize, chocolate, citrus, palm oil, oilcake, bananas, tea, vegetables and fruit juices.

South Africa is a minor player in the Saudi Arabian agricultural market, accounting for less than 2% of all the imports. The essential exportable products to the Saudi kingdom were oranges, lemons, pears, grapes, mandarins, apples, plums, grapes and avocados.

Another product that has recently joined this list is beef, as South Africa now has established market access for exports to Saudi Arabia.

Notably, South Africa is generally a net exporter of some of the products mentioned above that Saudi Arabia imports from the world, albeit mainly concentrated in European, African and Asian markets. Therefore, the possibility of close cooperation and deepening of agricultural trade will benefit South Africa.

Again, this is not to minimize South Africa's close relationship with the EU, the US, the African continent, or other regions. These current markets remain strategically crucial to South Africa's agriculture.

South Africa is driven to expand its export markets, and today's engagements align with this ambition. This is a view or ambition of the South African government and the private sector.

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