Zuma to visit India to enhance bilateral relations

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma is to visit India early next year to further cement bilateral relations between the two countries.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said the President's visit would be aimed at strengthening current bilateral agreements and identifying more trade possibilities with the vision of enhancing the two countries' economies.

"This visit will be followed by a Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) during which government-to-government interactions over a broad spectrum of issues will take place with a view to further deepen and expand bilateral relations," she said.

The minister was speaking at the three-day Doing Business with India Conference, in Johannesburg on Thursday. The conference is expected to hammer out strategies to strengthen business and trade partnerships between the two countries.

India remains South Africa's largest trading partner in the south Asian region and one of its top ten trading partners globally.

According to Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, the total bilateral trade volumes between South Africa and India amounted to R37.4 billion in 2008 and bilateral trade continues to grow over an ever-increasing range of business sectors.

"Bilateral trade between South Africa and India has continued to grow since the establishment of diplomatic relations following South Africa's democratisation. But there is still vast untapped potential and many opportunities exist for expanding this commercial relationship," she said.

The minister urged the local private sector to further explore export opportunities and increase market penetration for South African products into the Indian market.

She said that India had a market of 1.1 billion people and an impressive ongoing economic growth which they could take advantage of.