New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) With an ambitious programme for development, South Africa plans to conduct road shows and business events in major Indian cities to attract investments in sectors as diverse as information technology, financial services and agro-processing.
"Both bilateral trade and investments can expand considerably," said South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who was here for the the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit.
A stable, diverse economy, a large market and relatively strong consumer spending power makes South Africa an attractive market in the African context.
"India is our a strategic partner and we are keen to attract Indian investments," Davies told IANS here, while hoping to raise two-way trade to over $15 billion by 2014 from around $11 billion now.
The trade minister spoke on President Jacob Zuma's announcement in February that South Africa will make massive investment in infrastructure to industrialise the country, generate skills and boost much-needed job creation.
Zuma was here last wek for the BRICS Summit, hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Davies said India-South Africa ties were growing from strength to strength. "Our trade ties have expanded enormously in recent years. There is significant investment. The intra-BRICS cooperation strengthens this and adds value to our bilateral ties."
Miller Matola, chief executive officer, Brand South Africa -- the organisation set up to promote the country globally -- said bilateral trade between the two countries was set to exceed $15 billion by 2014.
"There was $10 billion trade target for 2011. We exceeded that. Now, we have set a new target of $15 billion for 2014. I am hopeful, we will exceed that also," Matola told IANS.
He said Brand South Africa would run a campaign this year in various Indian cities. "We are seeking Indian investments -- in ICT, agro-processing, bio-technology, renewable energy, financial services, mining and infrastructure."
Brand South Africa was set up in 2002 to help create a positive image for South Africa. Its main objective is marketing South Africa through the Brand South Africa campaign.
Indian companies have invested around $3.8 billion in South Africa so far. Several big Indian multinationals like the Tatas, the Mahindra Group, Ashok Leyland and Cipla have significant business interests in the country.
South African firms are also expanding in India. Energy giant Sasol is exploring a multi-billion dollar plant in India. Matola said Brand South Africa would facilitate meetings between Indian and South African entrepreneurs to boost two-way investments.
He said South Africa has the highest competitiveness ranking in sub-Saharan Africa and is second only to China among BRICS countries. South Africa also ranks 50th in the World Economic Forum's competitiveness ranking.
In the Annual Global Competitiveness report, India ranks 56 out of the 142 economies.
"In the African continent no country even comes near to us in terms of the quality of infrastructure, logistics and financial services," he said.
Matola also emphasised the need to diversify the trade basket. India mainly buys unprocessed goods and raw materials like coal, copper and manganese ores, solid fuels, briquettes and ferrous waste from South Africa.
It mainly exports petroleum products, heavy and light motor vehicles, auto parts and telecom equipment
(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)
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