South African President, Jacob Zuma has arrived in Iran to strengthen political, trade and investment ties after crippling international sanctions against the Islamic Republic were lifted earlier this year, his office said.
South Africa is hoping to exploit a market hungry for investment as tens of billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will benefit.
Iranian media said the two countries signed eight agreements on cooperation in areas including trade, industries, investments, agriculture, water resources and oil industry research and development.
It was also said that the two countries called for strengthening intelligence cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
In opening remarks after his arrival, Zuma said various mechanisms had been discussed “to strengthen our political, trade, investment and economic, as well as people-to-people relations between our countries.”
“The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran provides immense potential for closer commercial and investment cooperation between South Africa and Iran,” the presidency said in a statement.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in remarks carried by state television that South Africa had supported Iran during its time under sanctions.
“Today, after the nuclear accords and the end of sanctions against Iran, there is a sharp competition between Asian and European countries for cooperation agreements with Iran, but we will never forget our close friends from the era of sanctions,” Rouhani said, referring to South Africa.
Pretoria is considering building an oil refinery that will process Iranian crude to bolster its petrol supply and reduce its dependence on foreign companies.