December 15, 2010

Angola eases South African business entry

Angola eased visa restrictions by offering multiple-entry visas to South African businesses to enter commercial ventures in Angola. "Our interior and external relations ministries are discussing with your home affairs department how to effect these visa regulation changes," Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said. The move to relax visa restrictions between the two countries is an attempt to improve relations that had cooled.

In addition to the visa waiver, South African business urged South Africa to move faster in persuading Angola to enforce an agreement on investment and the protection of business interests. The bilateral agreement — which was signed five years ago between the two nations — has not yet been implemented. Roger Ballard-Tremeer, honorary CE of the SA-Angola Chamber of Commerce, said the agreement would protect investment projects of South African businesses in the event of civil unrest in Angola.

More than 100 South African companies operate in Angola in industries such as engineering, retail, construction, aviation and logistics. Mining, infrastructure development, energy, agriculture, trade and investment projects were amongst thoses discussed at the meeting.

Angola, one of the continent’s biggest oil-producing countries, enjoys a trade surplus with South Africa, as the latest figures from the Department of Trade and Industry indicate. Exports to South Africa that are largely from the petroleum sector amounted to R12bn last year. South Africa registered R5,5bn in export revenue in the corresponding year.

Mr dos Santos is on his first state visit to South Africa, after more than a decade of shunning invitations to visit the country. His anger was fuelled in part by his suspicions that post-apartheid SA was giving preferential treatment to the Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Mr Savimbi was killed in 2002 by Angolan armed forces. After his inauguration last year Mr Zuma undertook his first international visit to Angola in his quest to bring relations on to a more cordial footing. (Business Day)

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