Zuma says India an important growth partner to South Africa

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Mumbai, June 3 (ANI): Historical ties between India and South Africa need to be converted into a strong economic partnership, said visiting South African President Dr. Jacob Zuma on Thursday.

Zuma also described India as a very important partner to South Africa at all three levels - political, economic social.

He was participating in an interactive session organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Zuma urged Indian and South African businessmen to work towards increasing bilateral trade between the our countries from the present 4.5 billion dollars to 10 billion dollars by 2012.

He also reiterated the need to expand the value added trade between the two countries.

He mentioned that 'India is one of the most attractive destinations for FDI inflows and also offers a very large consumer market.

A strong relation between both the countries would build long term capacities to effectively compete in the global market, he emphasized.

He mentioned that the large business delegation of more than 200 members accompanying him are very keen in doing business in India in diverse sectors such as ICT, transport, infrastructure, agriculture, financial services, energy and mining, pharmaceuticals and healthcare to name a few.

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that India shares its icons and heroes with South Africa and has similar patterns of history, challenges and dreams.

He emphasized that the cooperation opportunities in areas of agro processing and infrastructure are enormous and must be exploited to the fullest.

He affirmed that India was less impacted in the recent downturn owing to its strong domestic demand and it now aspires to achieve double digit growth in the near future.

Hari Bhartia, President, CII and Co-chairman and Managing Director, Jubilant Organosys Ltd, outlined an agenda for both the countries for enhancing economic relations.

"We must expedite the PTA talks between India and SACU towards rapid conclusion. The issues on market access and legal matters that have been identified need to be quickly resolved. Further, there is need to diversify and expand our baskets of traded goods', he stated.

He further said that "We need to strengthen and develop linkages between the SME sectors of the two countries so that they may take advantage of global opportunities. SME platform could help expand exchanges between the two sides. CII has been active in this area and has assisted in SME capacity-building in South Africa."

He also suggested setting up dedicated investment platforms to assist companies in entering each other's business sectors.

Ratan Tata Chairman, Tata Sons Ltd, emphasized on leveraging upon complementary skills and strengths. Both the countries can develop a worthwhile entrepreneurial environment.

During the session, there was a launch of an India - South Africa CEOs Forum.

The CEOs Forum is expected to provide an institutional framework or strengthening and deepening the business relationship between ur two countries. The Conference also witnessed the signing of mportant MoUs between J M Financial and First Rand Bank SA and lso between Green Harvest and KZN AC Industrial SA. (ANI)

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