India - S. Africa to sign free trade agreement

Monday, 25 November 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India and South Africa are planning to sign a free trade that would benefit the trading community of the two countries.

"The two countries would shortly be signing a free trade agreement to benefit the trading community of both countries. The agreement will open the European and African market gates for the Indian industry since South Africa already exports 11,000 different products to these countries," South African High Commissioner M.E. Nkoana Mashabane said at an interactive meeting organised on Saturday by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) in Ludhiana.

PHDCCI represents all the north Indian states right up to Madhya Pradesh.

To further promote trade relations with South Africa especially in the field of agriculture and food processing sector, textiles, gems and jewellery, metal scrap and pharmaceuticals, PHDCCI signed a memorandum of understanding with the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC) of Limpopo in South Africa, according to a statement issued here.

Punjab Industries Director T. R. Sarangal expressed hope that the agreement would facilitate import of metal scrap directly from South Africa and not via the current Middle East route.

PHDCCI Vice President P. K. Jain said the chamber is committed to establish and develop commercial and science and technology links between the business communities of both countries with special focus on organizing trade and market research missions and symposia to promote trade activity.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has already reached $2.5 billion mark this year.

Limpopo Province Premier Ngoako A. Ramatlhodi, who had arrived in India on a weeklong visit, said the delegation members who have already signed various contracts with the Punjab industrialists during this trip.

The African companies have identified prospective companies in agriculture related in Punjab to encourage further trade between the two countries.

"With the advantage of fertile soil, low cost of land, low population levels, abundant availability of natural resources, well educated populace in the cities and high aspiration levels in South Africa, the synergy that can be achieved through mutual collaboration and cooperation is immense," Ramatlhodi said.

India's expertise in setting up of small and medium units could be a major plank of cooperation, said R. S. Sachdeva, co-chairman of the Punjab chapter of PHDCCI. He urged that effort should be to identify and build upon the complementarities between the two economies.
Source: IANS
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