Friday, September 23, 2011

India, South Africa Agree To Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation

India and South Africa have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the medium, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) sector. This was agreed in a bilateral meeting between Jyotiradiya M Scindia Minister of state Commerce and Industries and Scindia is on a one day visit to South Africa heading a Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) business delegation to South Africa. Scindia held wide ranging discussions with Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister for Trade & Industry. During the discussions Scindia referred to the historical ties and their common struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Addressing the press after the meeting the Minister for State for Commerce & Industry said, "South Africa houses many prominent centers of learning and excellence. There is a scope for the universities and research and scientific institutions to enter into R&D collaborations.
The MSME sector accounts for a large share of industrial output, employment and exports in both countries. There are immense opportunities of cooperation and strategic alliances in MSME sector, which could be in the form of joint ventures, technology collaborations or marketing tie-ups."
Bilateral Trade in 2010-11
The total trade between the two countries in the financial year 2010-11 was $10.6 billion, higher than bilateral trade target of $10 billion by the year 2012, set during the visit of South African President Jacob Zuma to India in June, 2010. A revised bilateral trade target of $15 billion has been set for the year 2014 during the meeting of Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Indian Government and the Minister of Trade and Industry, South African Government held on 10 January 2011. Scindia expressed hope that the India-SACU Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) will be concluded soon, which will give a considerable boost to our exports in the Southern African region. South Africa is India's 2nd largest trading partner in Africa. There is, however, ample scope of diversifying the existing trade basket by bringing in many more manufactured goods.
Addressing the business conference "India-South Africa: Developing Partnerships for Future" at Johannesburg, Scindia said "Our economies are placed in similar positions in the global economic order, and both our governments are faced with similar socioeconomic imperatives. It is imperative for us to step up the bilateral cooperation, intensify knowledge sharing and jointly address developmental issues, leading to inclusive growth in our respective economies. "Speaking about the potential areas of cooperation he mentioned that there are tremendous prospects for South African diamond mining companies to enter into long term contracts with the Indian diamond companies/rough purchasers like DIL, MMTC etc. and there exists tremendous scope for co-operation and JVs between Public Sector undertakings of the two countries in the coal sector. He mentioned about the significant contribution made by 1.5 million strong Indian Diaspora in South Africa. The business conference was jointly organized by the CII and the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).
Structured Engagement and Interaction
Addressing the conference he mentioned that the 1st India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in 2008, and the 2nd Summit, recently held in May 2011 at Addis Ababa, have designed a new architecture for a structured engagement, interaction and cooperation between India and Africa in the 21st century. At the 2011 Summit, our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, made several announcements for the next three years, including the availability of $5 billion Lines of Credit; more than 22,000 scholarships and an additional $700 million to establish new institutions and training programs in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.
In a meeting organized by the Indian High Commission, he also interacted with the leading CEOs of Africa and explained to them the opportunity India offers due to its unique democratic and demographic dividend.
There is active contact between India and South Africa in multilateral fora, particularly at the NAM, Commonwealth, G77, G20, New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), and World Trade Organization (WTO). Both countries are part of the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) trilateral initiative. Both countries are currently non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (2011-2012). South Africa rendered pro-active support in the NSG decision to enable full civil nuclear cooperation with India. South Africa recently participated in the BRICS summit held in China in April 2011.

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