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Friday, July 8, 2016

South Africa, India boast ‘enormous’ bilateral trade, investment potential – Zuma

President Jacob Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday signed eight memoranda of understanding (MoUs).
Some of the focus areas included the establishment of grassroots innovation in the area of science and technology, an MoU on tourism and a programme of cultural cooperation.
Modi was in South Africa on his first official visit, which was aimed at bolstering cooperation on economic, political, social and international matters.
“This visit enables us to further enhance trade, investment and commercial relations with India,” said Zuma.

He noted that South Africa wanted to increase and diversify its exports to India and had identified new areas for market access including the defencedeep mining, renewable-energyand health sectors.
Zuma highlighted that the two countries had set a target of advancing bilateral trade to $18-billion by 2018.
“To achieve this target, we will need an increase in private sector deliberations, while government should focus on resolving barriers that are impeding infrastructure and trade.”
Zuma stated that the South African government continued to play its part in advancing its socioeconomic blueprint through the National Development Plan (NDP), which “provides for a coherent and pragmatic framework for the transformation of our economy”.
“Through it, we aim to boost economic growth though improving the education system and skills development,” he said.
Zuma added that the NDP was complemented by government’s nine-point plan for reigniting economic growth, inlcuding growing the country’s oceans economy through Operation Phakisa, as well as building the agroprocessing value chain and encouraging private sector investment.

South Africa values cooperation with regards to skills development. A number of our youth study in India. We are keen to explore further opportunities for trainingopportunities [in] India as part of youth empowerment and development,” Zuma noted.

He added that South Africa had agreed to promote tourismbetween the two countries.

“We would like to assure the Indian [delegation] that South Africa is a wonderful tourism destination and that a simplification of South Africa's visa regime with India is under way. This will promote ease of travel to South Africa,” Zuma said.

He stated that the two countries held enormous trade and investment potential that needed to be unleashed through closer strategic cooperation.
“We need to explore ways and means of increasing and diversifying our trade and investment initiatives in our respective economies.”
Meanwhile, Modi stated that “now is the time to work towards economic freedom; our relations rest upon our common desire to fulfil the aspirations of our people”.
He stated that both countries were on a path to development and were important players in the BrazilRussiaIndiaChinaand South Africa, or Brics, economies.
“The world is looking at us with great expectations. South Africa is [a key] trade and investment partner and bilateral trade between India and South Africa has grown 380% in the last ten years,” he noted.
He added that more than 150 Indian companies were currently operating in South Africa and that both countries had to look at ways to diversify their trade baskets.
“Skills and community empowerment should be central toSouth Africa’s business plans. The spirit of ‘ubuntu’ should reflect in your business ethos,” he said.
Trade between India and South Africa reached R95-billion in 2015. Trade with India represented 4.9% of South African imports and 4.1% of exports last year.
South Africa's trade statistics also showed that India's exports to South Africa increased from R29-billion in 2011 to R54-billion in 2015, while South Africa's exports to Indiaincreased from R24-billion in 2011 to R41-billion last year.

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