India, SA explore untapped business potential

Friday, July 8, 2016
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Pretoria - Business delegations from South Africa and India have exchanged views on how the governments of both countries can partner with the private sector to create a conducive environment for business to flourish.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently in South Africa, where a Business Forum was held on Friday. At the end of the forum, two co-chairpersons representing South Africa and India reported back the outcomes of the CEOs’ Forum to the government heads. A CEOs’ Forum was held during the day ahead of the Business Forum.

South African State Security Minister David Mahlobo said about eight Memoranda of Understanding were signed during the forum. He urged South African and Indian businesses to expand cooperation in major projects in both countries and in Africa at large to optimise their capabilities.

Minister Mahlobo said the Business Forum aimed to strengthen economic ties between the two countries through the regular interaction of its members and continuous dialogue with government.

Co-chairperson Vivian Reddy represented South Africa. He said the value of trade conducted in 2015 was worth R94 billion. He said the CEOs’ Forum highlighted issues relating to Black Economic Empowerment, among others, during its meeting. In the same vein, he said trade between Africa and India has to be increased.

Representing India, co-chairperson Adi Godrej said the forum highlighted opportunities in sectors such as financial services, pharmaceutical and net care, mining, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy and education.

“Deep mining is an important area of collaboration between India and South Africa. Cooperation in this regard is underway in the Indian market. South African companies must further look for opportunities in the deep mining sector in India,” he said.

The training of nurses and other medical personal should also be explored, along with sourcing of pharmaceutical products from India.

“We look forward to working with the governments of both countries to ease business between each other,” said Godrej.

President Jacob Zuma said South Africa and India face the common challenge of turning the legacy of underdevelopment and poverty into sustained economic growth and socio-economic improvement.

“We have to do this in a world in which economic power is still very unevenly balanced between developed and developing countries. Our engagement, through forums of this nature, reflects our common determination to take our destiny into our own hands.

“Our two countries hold enormous trade and investment potential that needs to be unleashed through closer strategic cooperation. The South Africa–India Business Forum will serve as a platform to achieving our goals.

“We need to explore ways and means of continuing, increasing and diversifying our trade and investment initiatives in the respective economies,” said President Zuma.

Boosting SA, India trade

India and South Africa have set a bilateral target of advancing trade to the level of US$18 billion by 2018.

“Achieving this target will require an increase in private sector deliberations, as well as government focusing on the resolution of barriers that are impeding the expansion of trade,” President Zuma said.

The government of South Africa continues to play its part in advancing its socio-economic blueprint, the National Development Plan (NDP). The plan provides for a pragmatic framework for the transformation of the economy. Through the NDP, South Africa aims to boost economic growth, especially through improving the education system and skills development.

“The NDP is complemented by the Nine-Point Plan for reigniting economic growth, which focuses on areas such as growing the Oceans Economy through Operation Phakisa, support for SMMEs, building the agriculture and agro-processing value chain and encouraging private sector investment,” said President Zuma.

To attract further investment in value-added manufacturing sectors in close proximity to the source of raw materials, President Zuma said South Africa has established Special Economic Zones, which offer unparalleled opportunities for Indian investment.

A number of these SEZs have been established across the country in various provinces and they are complemented by a range of new support measures over and above the measures provided in generic investment.

“Coupled with these is the development of an urgent plan to increase the level of beneficiation in the following areas: iron ore and steel; platinum group metals; polymers; titanium; upstream mining inputs and the energy value chain.

“Furthermore, the Department of Trade and Industry has recently launched our eighth Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), which is a significant step towards strengthening our efforts to promote long term industrialisation and diversification beyond traditional commodities,” the President said.

He invited Indian companies to partner with South Africa in advancing investment initiatives across a number of sectors that offer high employment and growth multipliers.

“We recognise the level of Indian investment in the South African economy, which amounts to a capital expenditure of R62 billion. South African investment into India has been growing steadily with investments in financial services, agro processing, hospitality and ICT.

“We, however, need to explore measures for increased investment in a manner that will allow for enhanced trade in the respective economies,” he said.

The President also encouraged cooperation between South African and Indian business for mutual benefit. “My government will consider appropriate instruments in advancing this initiative, including the envisaged launch of the South Africa-India Joint Trade Committee.”

Realising economic dreams

Prime Minister Modi said relations between the two countries are built on a strong historical foundation. He said his visit paves the way for further meaningful cooperation between the two countries. He commended the fact that bilateral trade between the two countries has in the last 10 years increased by almost 380%.

“Many Indian companies have their footprint in South Africa.”

He said many Indian Chief Executives are doing business in South Africa, contributing to the development of the country’s economy.

He encouraged business leaders to exercise the spirit of Ubuntu.

He lauded both countries for having worked hard, especially over the last two years, to see the economic light.

Prime Minister Modi said India is prepared to assist South Africa with skills development, as there is large scope for cooperation across various sectors.

He welcomed the recommendations from the CEOs’ Forum, saying South Africa and India will ensure that they are put into practice. -

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