India and South Africa have revised the target of bilateral trade at $15 billion from an original target of $10 billion by end of 2011-12. This was possible largely due to a surge in trade in coal, gold, ICT, automotive items, pharmaceuticals and oil & gas.
The visiting South African deputy minister of trade and industry, Elizabeth Thabethe, told Business Standard, “South Africa is quite keen to increase trade and investments from India. The bilateral trade has already reached a level of $10 billion as of now, and is expected to achieve a new high of $15 billion by end of the current financial year. At present, South Africa’s trade with China is around $20 billion. Besides, South Africa has higher trade with the US, Japan and western European countries.”
She noted that manufacturing, engineering, agro-processing, tourism and bio-technology, apart from mining, are the key sectors where there is further scope for both the countries to grow.
Thabethe and South African consul general in Mumbai, Paul Malefane, however, said Indian investors were welcome in their country to invest, especially in the mining sector, but they were also expected to do a value addition. “South Africa offers incentive of 200 million rand for investors in gold and coal mining. The idea is that investors can take away coal, in particular, which is a raw material required for India’s power generation, but they should also help South Africa to increase technical efficiency in coal mining,” the minister viewed.
Thabethe said Indian companies were welcome to invest in tourism sector. Besides, the Bollywood can explore various destinations in South Africa for film shooting. “Indian investments in tourism and Bollywood’s move to zero-in on South Africa for shooting will generate more jobs and business opportunities for locals,” she informed.
According to the minister, India’s leading company SRF has proposed $60 million investment in South Africa to set up a polypropylene project. “The company plans to make South Africa an export hub and send some products to India, too. The project will generate 250 direct jobs and an equal number of indirect employment,” she added.
Thabethe said signing of free trade agreement (FTA) with India is not on South Africa’s radar. However, she made it clear that her country was keen on the effective implementation of preferential trade agreement with India. “FTA will be signed at the later stage,” she noted.
On signing of foreign investment protection agreement between India and South Africa, the minister informed her country had already sent a draft agreement to Indian government to seek its views.