‘India, South Africa can tackle slowdown together’

July 23rd, 2009 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, July 23 (IANS) India and South Africa can defy the slowdown if they increase investments in each other’s economy, according to South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoane-Mashabane.

In his keynote address Thursday at the “Doing Business with India Conference”, organised jointly by the Indian mission here and the South African Ministry of Trade and Industry, Nkoane-Mashabane said south-south cooperation would contribute to speedy recovery.

“Our partnership comes a long way and is not just a bond of friendship, but these bonds are blood ties,” the minister said at the conference that is being attended by about 200 captains of business and industry from the two countries.

“If I had been asked by the (Indian) high commissioner earlier, I would have called it ‘Strengthening partnerships when strengths are down’ instead of ‘Building partnerships when the chips are down’,” Nkoane-Mashabane said.

Nkoane-Mashabane said although bilateral trade between India and South Africa has continued to grow since the multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, there was still a vast untapped potential and many opportunities existed for expanding this trade.

“India is South Africa’s largest trading partner in South and South-East Asia and one of South Africa’s top ten trading partners globally,” he added.

Highlighting the investments by companies on both sides, Nkoane-Mashabane made a plea to local delegates: “South African companies in all sectors need to work much harder in exploiting export opportunities to take South African products into Indian markets for its 1.1 billion people.”

Maintaining that India was an attractive option for global investors, he added: “India as a trading partner should not be underestimated.”

Nkoane-Mashabane also noted that India’s investment in South Africa has grown “remarkably both in quantity and diversity”, and singled out the Taj Hotels group, which has planned to invest 550 million rands ($71 million/Rs.346.2 crore) to build hotels in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

“Indian call centre companies also have plans to create 5,000 new jobs for South Africans. We welcome such exciting investments to our shores,” he added.

Nkoane-Mashabane said although a number of South African companies like brewer SAB-Miller and the Airports Company of South Africa have made big investments in India, local firms were “still scratching the surface and need to take full advantage of the opportunities that India offers”.

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