‘India,South Africa economic ties need to grow faster’

September 23rd, 2008 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Sep 23 (IANS) Economic ties between India and South Africa have flowered in the last few years but have not yet reached full potential, says India’s Ambassador R.K. Bhatia pressing for an umbrella trade and investment pact.Addressing a gathering Tuesday while launching a conference on ‘Doing Business with India’ in Johannesburg, the ambassador said bilateral trade had increased by 261 percent to $4.7 billion within six years.

“This may seem to be a satisfactory growth but, on the other hand, it may not really be so, especially if we take into account the growth in trade of India and South Africa with some of their other trading partners,” he said at the conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

Bhatia noted that both countries had already started talks for a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement.

“South Africa has been aware of our interest in an early conclusion of bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, but perhaps it needs to move forward quickly in that direction.”

He said current trade figures were also “not fully satisfactory” if compared to bilateral trade targets of $10 billion and intra-IBSA (India Brazil South Africa) trade of $15 billion by 2010.

At the same time, Bhatia said steady growth of two-way investment flows, estimated to be $2.5-3 billion is a “highly promising feature”.

Based on the decision at the IBSA summit in October 2007, business leaders had asked for removal of curbs on the movement of goods, services, investments and business people.

The senior Indian diplomat said progress had been made, with India and South African Customs Union negotiations put on a fast track.

Due to “persistent efforts” by India, South Africa has liberalised its business visa regime “to a certain extent”, he added.

“This should encourage our business people to visit South Africa more as their business needs grow in future.”

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