Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has described India as a crucial partner for South Africa's long term economic growth strategy.
"We have identified India as a strategic partner for South Africa with good reason. This country boasts a burgeoning middle class of approximately 300 million," Zuma said while addressing business CEOs from India and South Africa on Thursday.
Zuma, together with several cabinet ministers and about 200 business leaders, is in India in a bid to strengthen economic and commercial interaction between South Africa and the south Asian country. It is his first official visit to Asia since taking office in May last year.
Zuma said India's economic transformation over the years has highly influenced several countries to consider changes in their industrial and economic policies and would continue to do so in decades to come. "A decade of continued growth in the midst of the recent economic crisis has left India as one of the world's largest recipient of foreign direct investment," he said.
He hoped the visit would ensure the two countries work further to deepen their already existing warm relations. South Africa recognises the fact that in order to strengthen its brand globally, it is imperative to invest all its efforts in making sure that the environment remains conducive for investments and potential investors.
India's sustained economic growth has continued unabated at a rate of five percent over the past decade with the country's economy growing from $250 billion in the early 1990s, to over $1 trillion, outperforming many developing economies. Income per capita also grew at the same rate, explaining the massive increase in personal wealth. India is also the world's 12th largest economy, with a nominal gross domestic product of more than eight trillion rand.
Zuma said traditional economies such as Europe and the Unites States are being joined by the new "engines" of development emanating from the developing world, with countries such as India and South Africa leading the change.
"In the last decade the Indian economy has undergone significant reforms and delivered unsurpassed and consistent growth," said Zuma, adding that the presence of Indian companies has been stamped in international markets.
The World Bank Group's Annual Doing Business Report for 2010 compared global regulation in 183 countries. From these global economies, South Africa ranked 34th for ease of doing business.
In terms of overall competitiveness, South Africa was ranked 45th ahead of countries such as Poland and Mexico.
South Africa was also ranked as the 18th most attractive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination world-wide, according to the 2007 FDI Confidence Index compiled by the global management consulting firm, AT Kearney.
Zuma told his audience, that included senior Indian government officials and business leaders, that South Africa's three-year Industrial Policy Action Plan will seek to expand production in value-added sectors to promote the creation of decent jobs. These plans would be boosted by the strengthening of ties between South Africa and India as the economic relations between two countries were already very strong.
"Just last year, total trade between South Africa and India was in excess of 4.5 billion US dollars from a negligible 45 million US dollars since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1993," said Zuma. South African companies offer exceptional partners, not only for our markets, but also the broader African continent and the world," he said