M a r k e t N e w s

Indian trade mission aimed to generate millions in new business with Africa

Posted on : Monday, 22nd December 2014

 The Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI) hopes that its recent nine-day trade mission to South Africa will, on its own, generate at least $10-million in bilateral trade. So stated FGI senior VP and mission head Janak Seth at a trade briefing in Sandton (north Johannesburg) during the visit. Gujarat is a coastal state in north-west India.
 
While 5% of India’s population live in the state, it is responsible for 17% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for 19% of Indian exports. It has 22 ports. Gujarat has enjoyed an annual average GDP growth of 10% over the past decade. “Gujarat is truly the land of entrepreneurs,” he affirmed.
 
The state is the only one in India to enjoy an uninterrupted electricity supply. The last power cut in Gujarat was ten or more years ago. “Some of our members here can really solve [South Africa’s] load-shedding problems,” quipped Seth. The state has a power generation capacity of 22 000 MW and is the only power-surplus state in India.
 
The FGI delegation is composed of companies in the chemicals, electrical, energy, engineering, information technologyand especially the pharmaceuticals sectors. Gujarat is especially interested in a wide range of South African agricultural products and oil seeds.
 
“India’s and South Africa’s relations go back a long way,” highlighted Indian acting High Commissioner Armstrong Changsan at the briefing. “The Indian diaspora here came [to South Africa] over 150 years ago. In the era of apartheid,India supported the anti-apartheid movement.
 
“Although our political relations are extremely cordial and excellent, our trade relations have also been growing,” he noted. “Our exports to South Africa have steadily increased.” In the financial year (FY) 2008/9, bilateral trade was worth $7-billion; by FY 2012/13 it had almost doubled to $13.9-billion.
 
Changsan assured that the Indian High Commission and its offices in South Africa were “very ready” to support business delegations and encourage South African-Indian business encounters, “to the benefit of both countries”. He pointed out that India was now issuing longer-term visas to South African businesspeople, and expressed the hope that South Africawould reciprocate.
 
Addressing the Gujarat delegation, South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Neren Rau pointed out that although business confidence in South Africa had been at very low levels, the outlook for this year was very optimistic, with a strongly improving trend expected in the second half. He also reported that his organisation was detecting signs of improvement in service delivery by local authorities.
 
Regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the South African economy, he cited the findings of the World Economic Forum (WEF). This body identified the strengths as innovation, good mar- ket efficiency, business sophis- tication, institutions (financial and nonfinancial, government and nongovernment) and financial market development (in this last case, South Africa was ranked in the top five in the world). Weaknesses were labour market efficiency, higher education and training, primary education and health.
 
South Africa and India are both members of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) alignment, and Rau noted that in the WEF’s global competitiveness analysis, South Africa was ranked above India and Russia, although below Brazil and China. South Africawas in 52nd place, as against 29th for China, 48th for Brazil, 64th for India and 67th for Russia.

Source : www.engineeringnews.co.za
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