RIYADH-- South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has arrived in Saudi Arabia to co-chair the eighth session of the South Africa�Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC) which will assess the progress made and implementation of the commitments of the previous session and seek ways to further deepen trade, economic and social cooperation.

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) said in Pretoria on Sunday that the purpose of the visit is threefold. In addition to co-chairing the JEC, Davies is leading a business delegation of South African business executives from the financial services, agro-processing and pharmaceutical sectors.

The visit is also a follow-up on President Cyril Ramaphosa's State visit to Saudi Arabia in July 2018, when Saudi Arabia pledged to invest 10 billion US dollars in South Africa's energy, defence and agricultural sectors.

A number of bilateral meetings with relevant Saudi ministries and investors have also been convened. These meetings will discuss the implementation of the institutions with a view of the $10 billion investment pledge, the dti said.

Davies is scheduled to address a business forum to be hosted by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce for business persons of both countries.

South Africa and Saudi Arabia maintain good political and economic relations and co-operate in a number of fields. Globally, Saudi Arabia is among South Africa's top five trade partners, largely because of the amount of the crude oil it imports from the kingdom.

South Africa currently imports approximately 47 per cent of its oil from the Arab country and regards it as a strategic partner in the Middle East. The country is also a large investor in South Africa, especially in the area of renewable energy.

Total trade between South Africa and Saudi Arabia amounted to 55.4 billion (about 3.92 billion US dollars) in 2017, with a trade surplus in favour of Saudi Arabia. Total trade has shown a consistent increase from 39.1 billion Rand in 2013 to 55.4 billion Rand in 2017.