India, South Africa to play major global role: Anand Sharma

By Fakir Hassen


Support TwoCircles

Johannesburg : India and South Africa were set to play a "major role" in the world and both policymakers and industry should work together to outdo the target of doubling bilateral trade, India's Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said Monday.

"India, together with South Africa, will play a major role in the world," Sharma told the First Conclave on India-South Africa Project Partnership organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

Aimed at strengthening partnerships in various sectors between the private sectors of the two countries, the conclave had a large number of Indian companies participating. A similar conclave will also take place in Cape Town on Thursday.

Referring to the target set by the leaders of both countries to double their bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2010, Sharma urged policymakers and industry leaders to strive and exceed the benchmark that has been set.

"If there is a will and the understanding is sound, I have no reason to believe this cannot be achieved."

Sharma also urged participants to ensure that all projects aimed at benefiting the citizens of the countries. He said both governments had committed to creating institutions required for vibrant economic engagement to ensure that pattern of growth is inclusive.

"In both countries, many still have to be empowered who did not have access to education or economic resources – inclusive growth must bring in the vulnerable and weaker sections of the population."

Sharma noted that the two counties had seen major changes in the past 15 years – South Africa in its transition from apartheid to a truly non-racial democracy and India in opening up its economy by embarking consciously on a plan for economic reforms.

He said South Africa has developed infrastructure and technology in areas where we can commence partnerships to ensure the benefits of high technology and research are shared between the two countries.

Delivering the inaugural address, South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin invited Indian companies to benefit from opportunities provided by billions of dollars worth of projects in the country, especially in the energy, transportation and telecom sectors.

Outlining opportunities in South Africa as it gears up to meet its huge energy, transport and communications needs, Erwin advised companies on both sides to establish partnerships, adding: "Being an efficient company in India or an efficient company in South Africa will not automatically give you access.

"Our economies may be very similar, but there are some quite exciting complementary skills in each country, which partnerships can benefit from."

Radhakrishna Padayachie, deputy minister of communications in South Africa, echoed these sentiments: "We are creatively finding ways to develop economic partnerships for development. Poverty is at the centre of our focus. The intellectual resources that both nations command can enhance and create better lives for our citizens."

Padayachie said that Indian companies could use the South African market as a gateway to the continental African market while those in India should offer a hand of friendship to South African partners to get into the Asian market.