New India, Brazil, South Africa shipping line mooted

By Fakir Hassen, IANS

Johannesburg : South Africa has suggested floating a private shipping company with government support as a way to boost trade between India, Brazil and South Africa.

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Government officials said that India and South Africa were on the verge of signing a memorandum of understanding on the proposed shipping line, with the state-owned Indian Shipping Corp controlling things from the Indian side, according to a report published in the Business Report daily.

The shipping line idea flows from proposals tabled at the recent India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit in Pretoria between the presidents of the three countries, who called for easier air and sea links between their countries to support IBSA objectives of further bolstering the $4.5-billion trilateral trade.

“We are trying to build reliable connectivity and unlock the potential for more trade because the biggest (obstacle to this) is the underdevelopment of our infrastructure,” Jerry Matjila, head of the South African Foreign Affairs Department’s Asia and Middle East Desk, told Business Report.

There are also expectations that other countries on the eastern, western and southern coast of Africa will benefit from any new shipping line that is developed, creating further opportunities for IBSA countries as well as the vessels’ call-of-ports in countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Maputo.

Statistics showed that during 2006, 92 shipping vessels from India arrived at various South African ports, and 13 from Brazil.