CALL TO EXPAND TRADE WITH AFRICA
Date : 30 Apr 2001
Location : New Delhi
The time is right for India to substantially expand trade, investment, technology transfer and technical cooperation with African countries, Shri Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, said here today while addressing the India Workshop of Asia-Africa Business Forum, being jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and UNDP. Sectors such as drugs and pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information technology, automotive and auto components, machine tool, medical & surgical equipment, agro & food processing, training & research development, small & medium enterprises have an enormous scope for mutual cooperation, Shri Abdullah said, while noting that India's share in Africa's global trade had been little less than 2 per cent due to various factors including information gap about business opportunities. However, he said, it was encouraging that in spite of the constraints, India's trade with African region have grown rapidly and trade with the sub-Saharan region had in fact registered a record increase from US $ 1711.30 million in 1994-95 to US $ 4856.84 million in 1998-99.
Underlining the efforts being made by the government to increase trade & investment ties with Africa, Shri Abdullah said that the government was looking at measures to improve financing of export, put in place an expeditious system of clearance of overseas investments for public sector companies, bridge the gaps on account of differences in language, harmonise the manufacturing standards of the regions, and a mutually acceptable solution to the recovery of outstanding dues. He said that various suggestions received at commercial representatives conferences convened by him at Johannesburg and Lagos were being pursued, including promotion of increased interaction between governments and businesses of the two region and participation in each others fairs both through India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) as well as export promotion organisations like Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) and Export Promotion Councils to bridge the gap in awareness.
Shri Abdullah emphasised in particular the importance of technology exports from India to Africa and noted that India had successfully executed projects in engineering, telecommunication, railways and construction sectors in various African countries. He hoped that the Workshop of the Asia-Africa Business Forum would evolve a strategy and action plan for the expansion of India-Africa business partnership. "Made in India' show to be organised by CII in Johannesburg in July this year would be an excellent platform for Indian and African businessmen to forge new partnerships, Shri Abdullah said.