South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa will visit Qatar on Wednesday to meet Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, for bilateral talks.

During their meeting, the two leaders are expected to deliberate on various geopolitical issues, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and investments, a statement from Ramaphosa's office said.

The two-day trip will be Ramaphosa's first visit to Qatar, which is South Africa's fifth-largest trading partner in the Middle East. 

"Both parties are committed to enhancing their economic ties and focusing on improving economic relations including trade, investment, and tourism," the statement said.

South Africa exported $206 million worth of goods and services to Qatar last year. The bulk of the exports were in the manufacturing sector, accounting for about 56% of total exports. 

Africa’s most developed economy has witnessed a surge in its imports from Qatar between 2017 and 2022, primarily due to the import of petroleum oils, the statement said.

South African imports from Qatar amounted to $252 million in 2022. 

Ramaphosa will be joined by a high-level business delegation and is expected to engage the Qatari business community on energy, mining, agro-processing, retail, healthcare, tourism, and shipbuilding. 

South Africa is already a significant investor in Qatar, especially in the petrochemical-related sector, with a total investment of around $9 billion, the statement said. 

Fuel producer Sasol has a 49% shareholding with Qatar Petroleum in the world's first commercial-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant located in Qatar. 

The Gulf state has a 51% stake in the plant named Oryx GTL located at Ras Laffan Industrial City. Sasol's technology is used to convert natural gas into liquid fuel and chemical products. 

(Editing by Seban Scaria