India, Africa should maximise trade potential: experts

March 20th, 2008 - 4:28 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) India and Africa need to “shed inhibitions” and start exploring opportunities to realise maximum bilateral business and trade potential, experts said here Thursday. “For trade to improve, both Africa and India need to explore each other’s potentialities that will enable the entrepreneurs of both sides to identify the major thrust areas,” D. Subbarao, secretary of the Indian finance ministry, said while delivering his keynote address at the Fourth India-Africa Project Partnership 2008 here.

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.

“India took a wrong turn by shifting its focus from manufacturing to services and we are now putting greater thrust on manufacturing. Africa should learn from this,” Subbarao said.

He also stressed on Africa providing more scope for Indian banks to operate there, which, he said, would prove beneficial for the growth of both India and Africa.

During the session, Exim Bank of India and Africa signed an agreement for a line of credit (LOC) of $30 million to be provided by the former to the latter to finance India’s exports to Africa.

The LOC will facilitate and boost India’s exports to member states of Exim Bank of Africa.

Exim Bank of India is a non-regional shareholder of Exim Bank of Africa.

More than 500 delegates representing trade, industry, government and banking from over 30 African countries and 50 ministers are on a three-day India visit from Wednesday.

During the visit the two 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.

“Our economies are growing at a vibrant speed and it has also been able to build strong entrepreneurship,” said Semakula Kiwanuka, Uganda’s minister of state for finance, planning and economic development (investments).

“I invite India’s private sector, not just the big leaders, but more and more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to come and explore every corner of Africa.”

“Let us shed all inhibitions and open up the trade between us like never before. I urge Indian companies to invest in our aviation sector, which is one of the fastest in the world,” Kiwanuka added.

He also cited challenges that Africa faces in terms of infrastructure, transport and power, where Indian expertise was called for.

India’s exports to Africa stood at $8.4 billion while imports recorded $11.4 billion. Exports to Africa are regionally diversified with eastern, southern and western Africa accounting for $2.5-3 billion each.

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