India to intensify economic ties with Africa, focus on value-addition

India-Africa Trade Min meet

Ahead of the third India-Africa Forum Summit, India has pitched for intensifying economic partnership with the African continent and unveiled plans to ramp up cooperation in key sectors, including agriculture and agro-processing, engineering, textiles, leather and pharmaceuticals.

“Cooperation in these sectors would have a positive bearing on the food security, improvement in the health situation and creation of additional jobs in both Africa and India,” India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman said at the fourth India-Africa Trade Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi on October 23.

Trade ministers and officials of various African countries and eight Regional Economic Communities met in New Delhi to firm up an ambitious strategy to scale up bilateral trade and investment between two growth poles of the world.

The minister described Africa as “a natural partner” and underlined that
“together, we can have a positive influence on the future global economic order.” The minister stressed that both India and Africa face similar challenges and concerns and the world economy offers tremendous opportunities to the two Fastest Growing Regions.

The meeting was attended by trade ministers from different countries, including Algeria, Angola, Benin, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Bilateral trade between India and Africa is USD 70 billion and India’s investment in Africa is estimated to be between USD 30 to 35 billion in Africa. Africa is home to a 2.7- million strong Indian diaspora. India has extended concessional credit to the tune of USD 7.4 billion, which has funded and created nearly 137 projects in 41 African countries. India also engages with various groupings in Africa such as the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for preferential trade agreements. India and Africa signed   a tripartite free trade agreement (TFTA) in June to bolster their trade relations.

“Value addition is the key to development and enhancing livelihood opportunities for people. India has made significant progress transforming itself from being an importer to a net exporter in many sectors”, said Ms Sitharaman. Speaking about the potential in Africa, Ms Sitharaman added that India would endeavour to share its experience and expertise in partnering with African countries which have potential for value addition and creating jobs.

India has also liberalized its visa regime by being one of the first countries to provide a services package for LDCs and has waived visa fees for businessmen from LDC countries travelling to India. The two sides also reviewed the progress in the implementation of commitments of earlier India-Africa Trade Ministers’ Meetings and review of existing trade and business relations between India and Africa. The two sides also held  discussions on a duty-free tariff preference (DFTP) scheme and services waiver for LDCs and a cotton technical assistance programme (TAP) apart from WTO issues.