India, Africa for greater thrust on economic ties

March 19th, 2008 - 11:43 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) India and a group of African nations Wednesday affirmed greater thrust on strengthening the bilateral economic ties by expanding both export and import to more items. More than 450 business delegates from over 30 African countries and 50 ministers are on a three-day India visit from Wednesday.

“India believes that expanding trade, and in particular imports, from Africa is part of its strategic engagement with the continent,” India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said while inaugurating the Fourth India-Africa Project Partnership 2008.

The conclave has been organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in collaboration with the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of India and the government of India.

“We would like to see Africa as a key stakeholder and a driver of global prosperity. Without economic progress in Africa, global development will remain a distant dream,” he added.

India’s exports to Africa stood at $8.4 billion while imports recorded $11.4 billion.

Exports to Africa are regionally diversified with East, Southern and West Africa accounting for $2.5-3 billion each.

“We feel that India needs to expand and diversify the import basket from the continent,” the minister said.

He further stated that the government also desires to forge a robust, effective and mutually beneficial economic relationship with Africa.

“Agriculture and food processing are key sectors for cooperation, as both sides are prone to food shortages, lack of diversification in crops and low agricultural productivity,” he said.

“We must also strive to enhance trade in agricultural commodities.”

Kamal Nath also asked both sides to focus on project partnership that will strengthen local skill resources, expand infrastructure availability and provide foundation strong economic cooperation.

Tanzanian Vice President Ali Mohamed Shein said: “The partnership between India and Africa has to be mutually beneficial based on greater economic ties.”

“India and its achievements are a source of inspiration for Africa. It’s vibrant economy of about nine percent (growth rate) has given us the lead to be more aggressive and competitive in global trade,” Shein added.

Shein also emphasised the need for greater engagement by the private sectors of the two sides.

“Africa has taken several liberal economic initiatives to create a conducive area for business,” he added.

Both sides are expected to discuss 151 projects worth $10.55 billion across sectors ranging from textile, agriculture, infrastructure, finance, pharmaceuticals and small and medium sectors among others.

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