Tuesday, November 15, 2011

India South Africa to cooperate in MSME Sector

In a bilateral meeting between Shri Jyotiradiya M Scindia, Minister of State Commerce and Industry and Ms. Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister for Trade & Industry, Government of South Africa, the two countries agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the MSME sector. Ms. Elizabeth Thabethe is visiting New Delhi for the ‘India International Trade Fair’, wherein South Africa has put up a ‘National Pavilion’ showcasing the craft products of 20 artisans selected from across South Africa.

During the discussions, Mr. Scindia recalled his meeting with the South African Deputy Minister for Trade & Industry during his visit to South Africa earlier this year in September, 2011, and reiterated the offer of India’s full cooperation for the development of MSME sector in South Africa. Shri Scindia mentioned the success of many clusters in the handicraft/ handloom sector in India, particularly at ‘Chanderi’ in Madhya Pradesh. With respect to the handloom / handicrafts sector, Shri Scindia offered to cooperate with respect to the structural issues and the dovetailing of IT into the handicrafts / handloom sector, exchange of vocational training, IT skills etc. South African Minister appreciated the development of this sector in India, especially of rural artisans, as well as the ‘cluster model’ adopted in many sectors.

The total trade between the two countries in the F.Y. 2010-11 was US$ 11.12 billion, much higher than bilateral trade target of US $ 10 billion by the year 2012, set during the visit of South African President Jacob Zuma to India in June, 2010. A revised bilateral trade target of US $ 15 billion has been set for the year 2014 during the meeting of Minister of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Govt. of South Africa held on 10th January, 2011. Mr. Scindia also highlighted that the bilateral trade has shown a growth of 21 % in the first four months of the current Financial Year 2011-12, viz. April to July, 2011. Bilateral Trade during this period has reached US $ 4.77 bn, with India’s exports to South Africa as US $ 1,703 mn and imports from South Africa as US $ 3,069 mn. Shri Scindia mentioned that the trade balance was at present heavily in favour of South Africa, and there is need for reducing the same while making all efforts towards achieving the bilateral trade target. The two Ministers agreed that it was imperative to finalize the India-SACU Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) soon, which will give a considerable boost to our bilateral trade, and with the Southern African region as a whole.

Shri Scindia also mentioned the substantial and healthy growth in two way investment flows. As regards South Africa, the cumulative value of FDI stock (Indian Investment in South Africa) would be over US$ 6.7 billion. The South African investments in India are also rising steadily and are around US$ 2 billion. Mr.Scindia emphasized that the 2 countries need to focus on specific sectors like auto engineering, pharmaceuticals, IT, diamond and mining sectors in order to further enhance the growth in the bilateral trade and investment.

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