He said South Africa belonged to the so-called BRICS group of countries with Brazil, India and China which together now accounted for 25 percent of world gross domestic product.
"Therefore we look forward to enhancing our economic and trade relationship with South Africa," he said.
The South African business delegation was headed by deputy minister of economic development Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize.
The Sri Lanka Africa and Middle East Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the African National Congress - Progressive Business Forum singed a memorandum of understanding to further strengthen links.
Minister Abeywardene said South Africa was Sri Lanka's leading trade partner in the Southern African region with bilateral trade of 65.49 million US dollars in 2011.
Exports from Sri Lanka to South Africa has increased from 15.6 million US dollars to 29.63 million US dollars in 2011. During 2011 exports had risen 44 percent and imports 100 percent, to 35.86 million US dollars he said.
Key items imported from South Africa were iron and steel and spirits, followed by fruit juices, craft and printing paper and fresh fruits.
"Sri Lanka has the potential to export, semi precious jewellery, perals, surgical gloves, furniture, footwear, canned vegetables, tableware and activated carbon to South Africa," minister Abeywardene said.
Sri Lanka has exported apparel, tea, solid tyres, bicycle tyres, coconut based products, gherkin and tableware.