India to deepen ties with regional groups in Africa

March 23rd, 2009 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) India continues to remain a “reliable partner” of Africa and is looking at deepening relations with regional groups in the continent, a senior Indian diplomat said here Monday.
“India has been and will always remain a reliable partner for Africa,” Nalin Surie, secretary (west) at the ministry of external affairs, said at the first day of the CII-Exim Bank conclave on India-Africa project partnership 2009.

India’s approach has always been to help Africa, he said, adding that India was already in negotiations to complete a preferential trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Surie said india was “keenly awaiting” the proposed tripartite free trade agreement between East African Community (EAC), Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Council (SADC).

“This is an ambitious programme which is of great interest to India, though it remains to be seen how it will impact the proposed India-SACU-Mercosur (Southern Common Market) Preferential Trade Agreement which will bring together Southern Africa and parts of Latin America,” he said.

Referring to India’s Team 9 initiative with West African countries, Surie added that India had already evolved its own methodology of strengthening regional cooperation.

India has already extended credits worth $500 million to the Team 9 participating countries.

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