India, southern African nations to have trade pact

Johannesburg, Sep 22: India will soon sign a preferential trade agreement with southern African nations to lower trade barriers and boost two-way trade, Visiting Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiradiya M. Scindia said here Thursday.

‘It will give a considerable boost to our exports in the southern African region,’ said Scindia, on a one-day official visit to South Africa.

Scindia, who met South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe, hoped that talks on the preferential trade agreement between India and the South African Customs Union (SACU) would be concluded soon.

India has been negotiating a preferential trade agreement with SACU, comprising South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia, since 2007. The proposed trade agreement is aimed at boosting trade by lowering tariffs and other barriers.

South Africa is India’s second largest trading partner in the African region. India-South Africa bilateral trade increased to $10.6 billion in 2010-11. The two countries target boosting bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2014.

‘There is, however, ample scope of diversifying the existing trade basket by bringing in many more manufactured goods,’ Scindia said.

Addressing a conference on ‘India-South Africa: Developing Partnerships for Future’ here, Scindia said India and South Africa should work together to overcome the challenges posed by uncertainties in the global economy.

‘Our economies are placed in similar positions in the global economic order, and both our governments are faced with similar socio-economic imperatives. It is imperative for us to step up the bilateral cooperation, intensify knowledge sharing and jointly address developmental issues,’ he said at the conference, jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries and Business Unity South Africa.

IANS