INDIA, SOUTH AFRICA LIKELY TO SIGN PREFERENTIAL TRADING ARRANGEMENT SOON
Date : 07 Dec 2004
Location : New Delhi
India is likely to sign a Preferential Trading Arrangement (PTA) with the South Africa Customs Union (SACU) soon, with a view to deepening the mutual trade and investment flows between the two sides, Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, indicated here today during discussions with the Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Mandisi Mpahiwa. Shri Kamal Nath also expressed the hope that the process of dialogue between the member countries of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) dialogue forum would facilitate enhanced level of cooperation amongst the three countries and strengthen South-South cooperation, as it would benefit the peoples of these countries immensely. The IBSA dialogue forum is meant to make the views of the South heard in various fora such as the UN, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) etc. IBSA dialogue forum is strictly not a trading bloc, but is a grouping which envisages a wider canvass of cooperation in various fields among these three continental-sized countries with a high level of technological competence and rich human resources.
Both the Ministers underlined the potential for stepping up bilateral cooperation in various fields and noted that the two countries had been working together in the WTO on various issues including Agriculture, Singapore Issues etc. Shri Kamal Nath suggested that India and South Africa could have a coordinated approach in the Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations also.
Shri Kamal Nath also took up with the South African Minister the issue of the time taken to register Indian pharmaceutical products for import into South Africa and suggested that a fast-track mechanism for Indian drugs already approved by the FDA of USA and MCA of the UK could be considered by the South African authorities. He also urged South Africa to evolve a mechanism for import of drugs from India for treatment of AIDS as many Indian companies were manufacturing generic versions of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs for the same.
Both sides noted that bilateral trade had increased in the last few years, and total trade had gone up to US $ 2.426 billion during 2003-04. Imports from South Africa have also been higher mainly due to large scale imports of gold. During April-July 2004, India’s exports to South Africa amounted to US $ 296.16 million, reflecting a growth of about 111.6% over the same period last year. Imports amounted to US $ 511.69 million during April-July 2004, which shows a decline of 39.4%.
The South African Minister was accompanied by Mr. Iqbal Meer Sharma, Chief Director, Department of Trade and Industry, Republic of South Africa and Mr. Madoda Ntshinga, First Secretary, Political, South African High Commission.