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Zuma aims to deepen ties with India

Business Report, South Africa

Zuma aims to deepen ties with India

30 August 2010

President Jacob Zuma said on Monday in opening the India Show that SA would be deepening strategic partnerships with India, especially in the areas of science and technology, agriculture, human resource development and security.

He said while three memorandums of understanding have been signed in the wake of his recent visit to India, the next step is to finalise a preferential trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

"We share a common vision," said Zuma, noting that he was speaking in a year that marked the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in SA.

He added that the Indian community in SA had contributed a great deal and he wanted to intensify collaboration and co-ordination in a number of areas with the country.

These included in international bodies like the UN and G-20 - where the countries were driving home similar messages - as well as by laying platforms for business and industry to grow and create jobs.

This was now taking place via the India Show and the CEO’s forum - a platform for business which was re-established during Zuma’s visit to India earlier this year and starting this afternoon when 30 CEOs - half from India and half from SA - will meet.

Zuma noted that India was the first country to impose sanctions during apartheid, while Ghandi’s visit over a century ago, was a "remarkable historic moment".

"Indians and Zulu’s must dance together in Durban," he added. The show moves on to Durban next and Zuma was entertained by traditional Indian dance before his speech today.

He said India’s support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development would "not go unnoticed" (they had already supported projects in numerous African countries under the Nepad initiative). He said a new Asian-African strategic partnership was in place.

But what he wanted to take forward strongly was on the educational side, which he sees as SA’s "number one priority". He said a number of universities were already collaborating in this regard (India produces the second highest number of science, tech and engineering graduates in the world).

Zuma concluded by saying commerce and industry must grow their ties further and create jobs, but the businessmen must also visit the rest of the country before returning.

"We have a different beauty to India - you will be warmly welcomed in every province."

India’s minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma, who also spoke at the event, believes a projected $10 billion in trade between the countries by 2012 can be achieved as early as 2011. - I-Net Bridge