India-South Africa CEOs Forum launched

Mumbai, June 3 (IANS) Visiting South African President Jacob Zuma and India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Thursday launched the India-South Africa CEOs Forum here.

Addressing top businessmen from the two countries, Sharma said the forum would provide a platform for sustained business interaction and guide policy issues.

‘India is South Africa’s largest trading partner in south and south-east Asia and one of South Africa’s top ten trading partners globally. Bilateral trade which stood at only $1.3 billion in 2000-2001 has crossed the US$ 7 billion mark last year, and is expected to touch $10 billion by 2012,’ Sharma said.

India’s total foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows during 2009-10 were $34.16 billion. The top sectors that attracted FDI included services, computer software and hardware, housing and real estate, power, automobile, chemicals.

Sharma listed several potential areas of bilateral cooperation. These include infrastructure, manufacturing, energy, mines and minerals, oil and natural gas, baking and financial services, tourism, information technology, pharmaceuticals, automobiles and auto components.

‘The much anticipated India-SACU (Southern African Customs Union) preferential trade agreement, will eventually lead to a free trade agreement between India, SACU and MERCOSUR (South American Trading Bloc). An Agreement for Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments is also waiting to be concluded. Early conclusion of these agreements will provide a real impetus to our bilateral trade and investments,’ Sharma said.

He urged the South African enterprises to invest in India’s growing infrastructure projects and agro-processing industry and hoped that the forum would boost economic relations between the two countries.

The newly-launched CEOs forum would be headed by Ratan Tata from the Indian side and Patrice Motsepe, executive chairman, Africa Rainbow Minerals, from the South African side.

Besides President Zuma, other dignitaries like Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davis, President of Business Unity South Africa, Futhi Mtoba, and representatives of various chambers of commerce and industry were present on the occasion.

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