India announces duty free tariff preference for LCDs

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{image-manmohan singh_08042008.jpg}New Delhi, Apr 8: India today announced a a Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme for Least Developed Countries unilaterally providing preferential market access for exports from all 50 least developed countries, including 34 from Africa, as the first India-Africa Forum Summit got off to a start here.

Inaugurating the two-day Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Scheme will cover 94 per cent of India's total tariff lines, specifically providing preferential market access on tariff lines comprising 92.5 per cent of global exports of all LDCs'. The Prime Minister also announced offerring additional lines of credit amounting to 5.4 billion US Dollars, double than the 2.15 billion dollars extended between 2003--2004 and 2008--2009, both bilaterally and to the regional economic communities of Africa.

Announcing a slew of steps to strengthen cooperation between India and the 53 African nations, the Prime Minister called for creating a new architecture for mutual engagement in the 21st century.

''We visualise a partnership that is anchored in the fundamental principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. Working together the two billion people of India and Africa can set an example of fruitful cooperation in the developing world,'' he said.

Calling for joint effort to combat vital challenges facing humanity, the Prime Minister said the objective of this partnership is to coordinate capabilities towards achieving economic vibrancy, peace, stability and self-reliance. ''...It is our intention to become a close partner in Africa's resurgence,'' he asserted.

Pointing out that transfer of knowledge and human skills would strengthen mutual capabilities of India and Africa, he said such exchanges must go beyond government-to-government interaction and embrace civil society, academics, artists and writers.

He called for common strategies and cooperative mechanisms for facing the challenges of food security, energy security, pandemics, terrorism and climate change.

The two-day Summit is being attended by the Presidents of South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Vice Presidents of Nigeria and Zambia, Prime Ministers of Burkina Faso and Ethiopia and Ministers and Special Representatives from Algeria, Egypt, Kenya and Libya and the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission.

The inaugural ceremony was preceded by a day-long meeting of the Foreign Minister of the 14 participating countries yesterday which sealed and finalised two vision documents for greater India-Africa cooperation.

The two documents which will be adopted on the concluding day tomorrow, stress on ways and means to strengthen cooperation between India and Africa.

The documents--a Delhi Declaration and the India-Africa Framework for Cooperation--''will provide a blueprint for India-Africa dialogue and engagement in the 21st century,'' the Prime Ministrer said.

He said cooperation between India and Africa must actively co-opt trade and industry in the processes of growth and development in Africa.


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