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India exploring PTA with five African countries

Business Standard

India exploring PTA with five African countries

BS Reporter / New Delhi March 22, 2008

India is working on signing a Preferential Trade agreement (PTA) with South Africa Customs Union (SACU), a regional sub-group of African nations comprising South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

According to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while India had trade agreements with 29 African countries, “negotiations were on for for a PTA with South African Customs Union’’.

He also said that India and the 17-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) had decided to set up a Joint Working Group to study the possibilities of signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Addressing the leaders and business leaders of 33 African nations who had come here to explore possibilities of business and trade at the three-day 4th India-Africa partnership conclave, Mukherjee said that India and Africa were trying to give a “contemporary meaning to their traditional relations with the African continent, (which has been) witnessing far-reaching changes in recent years”.

The India-Africa trade has risen from $5 billion in 2001-02 to nearly $25 billion in 2006-07, a five-fold growth.

The conclave organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Export -Import (EXIM) bank of India is being held on the eve of next month’s mega event - the first-ever India-Africa summit, which is being attended by heads of 14 African nations.

The summit is likely to end with an announcement stating the combined political will of India and Africa to surge ahead in trade and investment engagements.

Mukherjee told the conclave that while so far India had been pursuing bilateral relations with individual countries in Africa, it had now started making relationships with regional trade groupings in the continent.

Underlining the scope for political cooperation between India and Africa, Mukherjee said fighting terrorism, pressing for reforms in the United Nations security council, a joint strategy for the Doha round of trade negotiations and also at the United nations forum for convention on climate change (UNFCCC) for reduction of emissions were such issues.

 source: Business Standard