More incentives needed to increase exports to Africa: Ficci

April 7th, 2008 - 11:48 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) An apex Indian business chamber Monday said that India could double the volume of its bilateral trade with Africa to $50 billion in 2012 by announcing incentives for exports and discussing improvement in business environment with African countries. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) conducted a survey on ‘Strengthening Economic Engagement between India and Africa’ among 41 Indian companies which have significant business presence in the continent in diverse fields, ranging from automobiles and energy to gems and jewellery.

It released the survey findings a day before the first-ever India-Africa Forum summit April 8-9 that will be attended by 14 African countries - 10 of them represented by their heads of state.

The meet is part of India’s concerted effort to increase its imprint on the continent, as it faces stiff competition from China flexing its economic muscle to tap Africa’s considerable resources in energy and minerals.

The India-Africa trade volume has increased by 285 percent to $25 billion in the last four years. This has raised Africa’s share in India’s global trade from 5.8 percent in 2002-03 to 8 percent in 2006-07.

“Given such optimism in trade with African nations, it is felt that doubling of trade to Africa to $50 billion by 2012 is a distinct possibility,” the Ficci said in a press release.

According to the survey, the Indian companies felt that the Indian government should adopt more pro-active measures to encourage trade, like entering into preferential trade agreements with individual countries and regional economic communities and enhancing the lines of credit to African countries. They called for a special package to push Indian exports into the African markets.

Besides, the survey called for strengthening the trade promotion cells and economic sections in Indian embassies and high commissions in Africa.

A public-private partnership initiative to create “Africa Promotion Council” was recommended, which could have sub-councils focussing on each of the five regions in the African continent.

Further, the Indian companies called attention to barriers encountered in fully reaching the potential of trade with Africa - from prohibitive costs of shipping, shortage of shipping line, high transaction costs and delay in obtaining visas.

“Brand India is still in infancy in many of the African countries. There is a need to promote products from India in the African countries. This is particularly important if we are to add more and new products to our export basket,” said the survey report.

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