By Bekithemba Ndebele
Business relations between South Africa and India has been strengthened after a number of agreements where signed. South African and Indian businesses have signed several memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost cooperation between the two countries.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited South Africa on July 08, 2016, accompanied by business delegation from India.
The 20th anniversary of the bilateral cooperation in science and technology between South Africa and India was celebrated and strengthened by the signing of the memorandum of understanding.
At a Chief Executive Officers’ Forum held in Pretoria on Friday, several agreements were signed such as the one between Hindustan Zinc (HZL) and South African company Fermel.
The MoU is for the supply and maintenance of underground mining equipment to improve safety, efficiency and productivity in the modern mechanized underground mines of HZL. Fermel, in turn, will also develop local skills for the maintenance of mining equipment.
Another agreement signed was health insurance agreement. This was signed between South African company MMI Holdings and Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited Group (ABNL India). The companies have a joint agreement in the health insurance sector of India, which was signed in June 2015.
According to South African Government, A MoU was also signed between SAAB Grintek Defence and India’s Tata Power for the production of Land Electronic Defence Systems (LEDS-50), while a MoU was signed between India’s CIPLA and the Dube Tradeport Corporation in Durban. This agreement is for the setting up of a bio-similar plant. The medication produced will be used for the treatment of cancer and respiratory diseases. It will also cater for the South African market as well as for export. Investment in the state-of-the-art biotech facility project is around R1.3 billion.
Speaking on behalf of acting Trade and Industry Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, the dti’s Deputy Director General for Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA), Pumla Ncapayi, said the forum represents a platform where the two countries can strengthen their economic ties.
India’s co-chair of the forum, Adi Godrej, said in the last two years, India has undertaken economic reforms that include the opening up of more sectors such as defence and pensions to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country.
“These changes pushed GDP growth to a new high, with GDP at 7.6%. We would like to strengthen our relationship with South Africa. We consider South Africa as our partner in the shared growth of economic prosperity,” said Godrej.
Speaking at a media briefing after the talks with Prime Minister of India, Modi, President Zuma said, “South Africa and India enjoy strong relationships dating back to the struggle against apartheid. India was a vociferous campaigner against apartheid colonialism. Our countries also share the honour of having produced two liberation icons, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.”
Godrej said it was concerning that bilateral trade between the two countries has been in decline.
“Bilateral trade between India and South Africa has declined from US$11 million in 2010/11 to $9.5 billion in 2015/16. This is clearly something we urgently need to address and find ways to reverse,” he said.
However, both countries acknowledged that the CEOs’ Forum has not been active for five years. Therefore, High-level representatives said the re-invigoration of the forum will go a long way to strengthening ties between the two countries.