South Africa and Singapore partnership continues to grow stronger
By Srimal Fernando
South Africa and Singapore enjoy strong and excellent bilateral relations, based on Commonwealth ties, and share friendly engagements on a number of issues. Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. A number of high level visits have been exchanged between the two countries since then. The High Commission of South Africa in Singapore aims to broaden the relationship between South Africa and Singapore by encouraging and supporting contacts and increasing links between the two countries at people-to-people level and with institutions.
H.E. H. F Ngubeni
H.E. H. F Ngubeni is the present High Commissioner of South Africa to Singapore. She strives to further deepen and widen the cooperation in a number of areas of investment, trade and tourism and wants to promote South Africa, as an up-coming tourist destination in Singapore. It takes developing the new engines of growth for South Africa’s economy going forward. The tourism sector is an increasingly significant income generator for South Africa. As far as tourism is concerned, the latest figures indicate that South Africa received 9.8 million tourists in 2012, and about 8000 Singaporeans visited South Africa in the same period alone. In a face to face interview with the Foreign Exchange Global Editor the High Commissioner H. F Ngubeni said, “We are placing high emphasis on promoting investment, trade and tourism and marketing South Africa as a unique tourism destination in Singapore.”
“Our relationship with Singapore is strong and broadbased and will continue to be very good.” The year 2013 marks a turning point in South Africa’s economic relationship with Singapore. The High Commission in Singapore had interesting programmes of action for the current year. This includes launching of its new tourism marketing initiatives for South Africa to increase leisure traffic between the two countries.
The main effort of the High Commission of South Africa in Singapore is to promote South African tourism in Singapore and to engage the main stakeholders in the tourism industry in both countries. In Singapore, the High Commissioner met the respective heads of the National Association of Travel Agents in Singapore (NATAS) and the Singapore Tourism Board. Meetings have also been held with individual outbound travel agents. The South African High Commission hosted a South African Tourist Promotion Seminar on 13th August 2013. The seminar was hosted in partnership with South African Tourism (SAT), the Changi Airport Group (CAG), Singapore Airlines (SIA) and the National Association of Travel Agents in Singapore (NATAS). The National Association of Travel Agents in Singapore (NATAS) Tourism Fair was the biggest tourism event where the entire outbound trade in Singapore was present for three days to sell the travel packages to consumers.
The High Commissioner engaged the President of NATAS in order to establish a sound working relationship with his organization. This engagement yielded phenomenal results for the High Commission in Singapore, as the President offered a free booth for participation in the National Association of Travel Agents in Singapore (NATAS) Fair and to organize the outbound travel trade to a seminar, where the High Commission would make presentations about the tourism potential to the Singaporeans. The signing of the MOC by Singapore Airlines (SIA), Changi Airport Group (CAG) and South African Tourism (SAT) was regarded as an important milestone in the evolution of the South Africa – Singapore relations.
South Africa’s engagement with the Government of Singapore and the business community is based on the promotion of South Africa’s trade and investment and tourism potential through the National Development Plan (NDP) with a view to increase the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Trade has been a very significant factor of the South African economy. Trade between South Africa and Singapore is growing at a tremendous pace. Five of the highest valued South African exports to Singapore are fuel oils, nickel, aluminum, fresh grapes and acrylic acid. Imports from Singapore to South Africa play a significant role in trade between both countries. South Africa’s top import from Singapore is high speed diesel fuel, floating drilling platforms, parts of vehicles, refined unleaded motor spirit and tin.
Today the South Africa and Singapore partnership is growing through enhanced trade, tourism, investment and cooperation in many social and economic development areas.