Addressing the fourth CII-EXIM Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership 2008, here, Nath described agriculture and food processing as the key sectors for bilateral and regional cooperation, as both sides are prone to food shortages, lack of diversification in crops, and low agricultural productivity. Nath further said that India"s strategic global engagements depend much on its strong relations with Africa, and added that in this context, New Delhi would be hosting the first India-Africa Summit meeting on April 8 this year.
He further stated that the Indian Government also desired to forge a robust, effective and mutually beneficial economic relationship with Africa and hoped that the the three-day conclave would set the stage for a bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between India and countries as well as regional blocks like SACU, COMESA, SADC, EAC in Africa.
India"s exports to Africa during 2006-07 stood at 8.4 billion dollars, while imports aggregated 11.4 billion dollars, having almost doubled since previous year. Exports to Africa are regionally diversified with East, Southern and West Africa accounting for 2.5-3 billion dollars each.
The Commerce Minister said that India needs to expand and diversify the import basket from the continent. “Project partnership is a key in this effort. It will help strengthen local skill resources, expand infrastructure availability and lay the foundation for strong and sustainable economic cooperation between India and Africa. Our mutual goals of poverty alleviation, human development and economic growth can be addressed in part through project partnerships," Nath said.
The conclave, which would conclude on March 21, is being attended by the Ministers from Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faszo, Chad, Comoros, Cote D"Ivore, D.R. Congo, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.