Pretoria- Bilateral trade between South Africa and India is expected to reach a target of $18bn by 2018, according to President Jacob Zuma.
Delivering an address at the South Africa – India Business Forum held at the Council of Scientific Research in Pretoria, on Friday 8 July 2016, Zuma said that the two countries hold huge trade and investment potential that should be “unleashed”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, agreed. “Leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi brought political freedom for us, now it is the time to work for economic freedom.” He added that the relation between the two countries rested on a “common desire” to fulfill the aspirations of its people. “We have been friends and adversaries. Now we should franchise in opportunities.”
Increased private sector deliberation with government should find a resolution for barriers to the expansion of trade. Zuma referred to the National Development Plan and the nine-point plan to boost economic growth which will attract investment.
India’s investment in South Africa’s economy has been R62bn. “[In turn,] South African investment into India is growing steadily in financial services, hospitality, ICT and the agro-industry,” he said. In 2015, bilateral trade stood at R94bn, falling short of the target of R150bn set in 2010. “We need to intensify our efforts and enhance value added exports,” said Zuma. Conversely, Modi commended the fact that over the past 10 years, bilateral trade grew by 380%.
Modi highlighted that growth and investment goes two ways. “More than 150 Indian companies operating in South Africa. And many companies of South Africa are doing excellent work in India.” The scope of trade is increasing daily, he added.
Both heads of state shared the economic competitive advantage of each nation, making them attractive regions for investment.
“India is a bright star in the global economy. We are being seen as the engine of global growth,” said Modi. In a time of global growth slowdown, India managed to achieve a 7.6% increase in GDP growth. “The IMF and World Bank has projected better growth in coming days.” In 2014/2015, India contributed 12.5% to global growth as contribution to global growth, this is 68% higher than the share of the world economy, he added.
Africa is regarded as the second-fastest growing region in the world. “According to the 2015 World Bank report, six of the 10 fastest growing economies of world emanated from Africa,” said Zuma. The continent is the second-most attractive region for investment in the world, ranking behind North America, he added.
Modi concluded his address by saying that India will introduce a free Visa programme for South African businessmen. This will enhance the ease of doing business in the country.