Indian small-scale industry expo a hit in S. Africa

Wednesday, 27 August 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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DURBAN: Indian small-scale entrepreneurs have attracted thousands of South Africans here with their quality products and competitive prices at a weeklong exhibition here.

Enterprise India 2003 has been organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian consulate general here.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for the third year in a row, Lionel Mtshali, premier of KwaZulu-Natal province, said a combination of ingenuity, quality and highly competitive pricing was mainly responsible for Indian businessmen penetrating so many world markets, including those of South Africa.

Consul General Ajit Kumar told IANS: "The huge response of more than 40,000 people in just two days of the exhibition shows that there is great interest in seeing how the small business is the backbone of Indian industry.

"It's basically about sharing our expertise in small-scale industry with our South African counterparts."

Mtshali said: "In fact, when one surveys the array of goods on show here, and when one considers the traditionally strong trade connections between India and South Africa -- between the cities of Mumbai and Durban in particular -- it is perhaps a little surprising that the balance of trade should still be slightly in South Africa's favour."

India exported goods worth almost three billion rands to South Africa in 2003, while our exports to India were a little more than four billion rands.

"However, those aggregate figures cover all categories of trade and I am sure that in the categories on show here today -- such as textiles, garments, fashion accessories, cosmetics and leather goods -- Durban is the entry point for a significant export trade for India's small and medium entrepreneurs."

Mtshali said the exhibitors could serve as an inspiration for the development of South Africa's own crop of small-scale entrepreneurs.

"India came from a background not very different from our own and with comparable natural resources. Its achievement is an inspiration.

"If Indian entrepreneurs should, through their trading contact with South Africa, seek to involve themselves in our own enterprises, through joint ventures and such relationships, that would be very welcome, and I am certain, mutually advantageous because local entrepreneurs are eager to get started and the markets are potentially huge."

For the first time this year, the exhibition also has a consumer durable component, which has generated a great deal of interest from the public, as they can buy the goods on the spot.

"The previous two exhibitions have concentrated on industrial goods, with select visitors who were interested in buying machinery," Vijay Chopra, Director of the CII office in South Africa, told IANS.

"There has also been a lot of discussions between exhibitors and South African visitors on possible joint ventures. There is also the possibility of many of these first-time exhibitors establishing agencies in South Africa."

CII now also plans to have a similar exhibition in Johannesburg next year to reach more people in South Africa. Durban had been previously chosen because the majority of South Africa's 1.2 million Indians live in the region, with many unable to visit India to buy consumer goods directly.

However, interest was being shown in the products of all communities in the country, not just local Indians, Kumar said.

Source: IANS

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