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Gujarat woos South African business

By Fakir Hassen, IANS,

Johannesburg : A high-level government and business delegation from Gujarat Friday began a three-city tour of South Africa to woo local business to invest in the state as part of the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ campaign.

The delegation addressed largely South African Indian businessmen at the head office of First National Bank, which is expecting o start operating in India by next month.

Girish Chandra Murmu, additional principal secretary to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, told IANS that while they were interested din South African investment in all sectors, there were a few special ones that there was particularly interest in.

“We in Gujarat don’t have miens, but specialise in processing, especially coal and diamonds, which South Africa mines, so we are very keen on that. We also know that South Africa has very good technology for producing fuel from coal and our large lignite deposits could assist in this regard.

“South African companies could also find excellent opportunities in the infrastructure sector, especially withe the development of ports on the long coastline of Gujarat; the new international airport planned for Dholera and in the Delhi-Mumbai corridor, a third of which will go through Gujarat.”

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) project, would also present tremendous investment opportunities for South African companies, said the chief executive officer of GIFT, Sunil Bahl, who described the project as “the most ambitious ever in Gujarat”: “There will be opportunities in engineering, minerals, ports, tourism and the automotive industry, among others.”

Urging South African business to see Gujarat as an excellent investment opportunity, Murmu cited as a major advantage the fact that half of the ten multi-zone Special Economic Zones proposed for India were in Gujarat.

“Other advantages are our long coastline of 1,600 km and its 41 ports; uninterrupted power supply; and road, rail and air connectivity.”

Tata’s decision to start producing its Nano, the world’s cheapest car, in Gujarat was also mentioned as a big boost for the state.

Harish Seth, chairman and managing director of Setco Automotive, said his company was looking at a joint venture partner in either South Africa or one of the East African countries for the production of clutches for the automotive industry, which were currently not being produced in the region.

The Seth family has already become a firm exporter of South African wines to India.

The delegation invited local visitors to attend the bi-ennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit at Science City in Ahmedabad on January 12-13, 2009. The delegation will also visit the coastal cities of Durban and Cape Town next week.