India, South Africa to discuss free trade pact

AFP | 21 Feb 2008

India, South Africa to discuss free trade pact

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - The quest for a free trade pact would be high on the agenda this week of high-level talks between South Africa and India in Pretoria, a government official said Thursday.

Discussions between the foreign ministers of the two emerging powerhouses would pursue a free trade agreement between India and the five-member Southern African Customs Union (SACU), said Jerry Matjila, deputy director general in the South African department of foreign affairs.

"Part of our discussions with India revolve around the issue of the SACU-India Free Trade Agreement that we will have to begin with India soon. We regard this as a very important development," he said in a statement.

The SACU comprises South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Matjila said a meeting of the South Africa-India joint ministerial commission, under visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, would seek to boost already burgeoning economic and political ties.

Bilateral trade has increased from about 200 million rand (26 million dollars) in 1995 to 18 billion rand last year.

"Our trade relations are growing in leaps and bounds and I am sure that by 2010, our bilateral relations would have reached 20 billion rand," said Matjila.

India has automotive, steel and mining investments in South Africa, which in turn exports finished goods, transport and other equipment to India and invests in manufacturing there.

The two countries are in an alliance with Brazil, dubbed IBSA, that seeks to boost co-operation among countries of the southern hemisphere and to ensure a better deal for developing nations on the global stage.

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source: AFP