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Suffolk Chamber & members meet leading South African representatives in trade talks

The county’s leading business body has held “enlightening and useful” talks with senior officials from South Africa – one of the east of England’s most significant trading partners.

Hosted on Thursday 2nd May by the University of Suffolk, a delegation of Suffolk companies and public officials, led by Koyas Miah, Suffolk Chamber’s international trade manager, met with the country’s new Honorary Consul, Bassim Haidar, and His Excellency Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo, the South African High Commissioner.

Discussion topics included the investment in ports and education and skills development, as well as specific challenges and opportunities in the trade in specific sectors, including food and drink, between the two countries.

According to the Government’s latest trade data, the eastern region is the second largest importer of South African goods and the second largest exporter of goods to South Africa in the UK. In 2022, £207m of goods were exported from the region to South Africa and £1.1b of goods imported to the Eastern region from the country.

There were also initial discussions about the possible mutual advantages of a UK trade mission to South Africa, which Suffolk Chamber will raise with both its national body, the British Chambers of Commerce and its neighbouring chambers in Chambers East to explore further.

His Excellency Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo said: “We’d like to thank everyone who made us feel so welcome during the visit. 2024 is a key year for South Africa as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of multi-racial democratic elections.”

Bassim Haidar is a global business leader with companies across the fintech, technology, telecoms, logistics, energy, engineering and medical sectors, leading a multi-sector conglomerate with operations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with annual revenues exceeding £1.3 billion.

He added: “In the UK, the east of England is a real trading powerhouse with South Africa and I want to use my global business experience to make these trade links even stronger.

“To this end, I look forward to engaging with businesses, politicians and universities in my new role and establishing how best we can work together to strengthen the historic and treasured ties between our two countries.”

Koyas Miah, Suffolk Chamber’s international trade manager, added: “The Suffolk businesses present were pleased to meet with this high-powered South African delegation. The discussions were enlightening and useful.

“Home to three significant ports and close to London and its major airports, Suffolk has a proud international trade track record and this meeting provided the perfect platform for them to better understand the scale and type of future opportunities within the South African economy.”

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