South Africa trebled its trade with GCC states to about $800 million in 1993, two years after Gulf Arab states ended anti-apartheid sanctions. Further increases are expected and a trade office will be set up in Dubai, according to Gyfford Fitchat, head of the Middle East department at the South African Foreign Trade Organisation.

Trade with the UAE, where South Africa is holding its second Middle East exhibition in May, rose by 400 per cent to $180 million. Pretoria will also use its Dubai trade office to promote exports to Iran, where the government recently gave the go-ahead for normal ties. South Africa’s exports mostly consist of consumer goods, domestic appliances and machinery, and its imports are almost exclusively oil.