sushma-swaraj_32New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday expressed the union government’s support to the Indian companies investing in Africa and urged countries from that continent to take steps to attract Indian investments, particularly in manufacturing and processing industries.
“Indian investors are aware of Africa’s potential – with its large land mass, rich natural resources and a youthful demography – as an important destination for financial and technological investment,” Sushma Swaraj said while inaugurating the India-Africa Business Forum held here as part of the ongoing third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).
“Our business persons are continually travelling to all corners of Africa, seeking new business and investment opportunities. The governments of India and our states welcome and encourage such initiatives,” she said.
“I would also encourage Indian and African business enterprises to take advantage of our ‘Make in India’ initiative to work towards mutually beneficial joint business ventures,” she said.
“I would urge African governments and businesses to organise road shows and related events to inform and attract investors and business persons from India to your respective countries,” she said.
The minister highlighted the fact that India was a destination for a variety of commodities as well as finished and semi-finished inputs for various products.
According to Sushma Swaraj, nowhere is the impact of economic growth and development more visible than in Africa, a continent of 54 countries and over a billion people.
“Trade and economic exchanges between India and Africa are a vital component of our all-round relationship with this rising continent. The total trade figure of about $72 billion in 2014-15 – though impressive as it signifies more than ten-fold growth in a decade – is still below its potential considering the size of India and Africa and a combined population of over 2.3 billion people, representing a huge consuming market for all sorts of goods and services,” she said.
“The fact is that we are not trading sufficiently with each other. Consequently, this commercial space is being ceded by us to third parties.”
It was because of this, she said, that India was among the first developing countries to offer duty-free tariff preference scheme in 2008, open to 34 least developed countries in Africa.
“It has been designed to provide access for processed and manufactured goods from Africa under preferential terms to the Indian market,” she said.
She also praised the role of the Indian diaspora in Africa.
“The business acumen of the Indian diaspora who made Africa their home played a significant role in the growth and development story across the continent. Today, it is estimated that investments of $32-35 billion are spread all across Africa in multiple sectors of agriculture, manufacturing and services,” Sushma Swaraj said.
The minister said with India’s economy growing and maturing, “considerable amount of capital generated in India seeks new destinations outside the country, including Africa”.
A report ‘Africa-India: Facts and Figures 2015’, jointly prepared by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Indian industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry was released on the occasion.
“Africa accounted for over 11 percent of India’s exports and nine percent of its imports. Trade between India and Africa currently stood at $75 billion, making India Africa’s third largest trading partner after the European Union and China,” said Carlos Lopes, executive secretary, UNECA, on the report findings.
He said Africa received over $2 billion of Indian overseas development assistance in 2014.
The compendium is based on an acknowledgement that India and Africa share a common understanding of a number of key sectoral issues such as micro, small and medium-scale enterprises and on importance of regulatory frameworks to spawn new ways of doing business.
Wednesday is the third day of the ongoing 2015 IAFS. On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will share the stage with heads of government and state for the summit meeting.