While the partnership between South Africa continues to yield good results many unexplored opportunities remain, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking at the South Africa – India Business Forum held in Delhi, India, President Ramaphosa said the two countries have worked to transform their relationship forged in struggle into a partnership for peace and economic prosperity, but more needs to be done.
The President arrived in the South Asian country on a State visit on Friday.
He said that currently the two countries cooperate in multilateral formations such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), G20 and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.
He urged the two countries to strive to forge a developmental path paved with pragmatism and a renewed sense of purpose as the challenges now faced by both countries have become greater and more complex.
The two countries continued to face high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment, particularly among women and the youth.
The two countries, he said, need to increase their production capacity while taking into account the changing and increasingly unstable nature of the international trading environment.
“However, while these rapid changes create challenges, we must not be blinded to the opportunities that lie behind and in the midst of such difficulties. There remain many unexplored opportunities that can propel us to a better tomorrow,” he said.
The two countries also have complementarities and comparative advantages which can be exploited for mutual benefit, especially in trade, investment, technical exchanges in information and communications technology, and skills development.
Meanwhile, India is an important destination for South African exports and is the fifth largest global market for goods.
The President said he is pleased with the steady increase in trade between the respective countries which has grown from R80 billion to R107 billion over a five-year period from 2013 to 2017.
He attributed this progress to the broadening of economic space for bilateral trade, increased competitiveness in the two States’ respective industries, as well as the strategic cooperation in fora such as BRICS, which have targeted programmes for increasing trade and investment.
He also welcomed the current initiatives by respective ministers of trade to increase bilateral trade. The two countries are seeking to explore sector-specific collaboration to boost manufacturing and trade relations with an emphasis on increasing trade in value added goods and services.
South Africa’s investment relationship with India has also deepened, with more than 150 Indian firms like Tata, Cipla and Mahindra operating in South Africa.
“We recognise and appreciate Vedanta Resources’ investment of $1.6 billion in the Gamsberg Zinc mine in the Northern Cape province, of which $400 million has already been spent. This investment by Vedanta has triggered a new wave of industrial and economic development in that part of our country.”
President Ramaphosa said untapped opportunities still remain in sectors such as agriculture and agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceutical, aerospace and defence industries, infrastructure, energy, ICT, electronics, metals and mining, creative industries and the oceans economy.
He said the South African government is cognisant of the need to intensify efforts to create an enabling environment for business to thrive.
“We are taking policy certainty and consistency very seriously and we act decisively and with speed whenever concerns are raised about these,” he said, adding that South Africa remains committed to attain the goals set out in Africa’s socio-economic developmental blue print, Agenda 2063.
“Africa is a continent of opportunity. We are therefore encouraged by India’s commitment to the development of the African continent though the India-Africa Forum.”
This forum, he said, must embolden Indian companies to form partnerships with South Africa’s financial institutions and the private sector to jointly collaborate on projects that can build Africa’s productive capacity and infrastructure.
SA companies in India
South Africa is also appreciative of the reforms undertaken by India on improving the investment environment, which will encourage more South African companies to enter the Indian market.
Currently there are 29 South African companies invested in India and South Africa wishes to see them double in number in the coming years.
South African firms with a presence in India include Sanlam, Life Healthcare, Momentum, Airports Company of South Africa, First Rand Bank, Old Mutual, and Naspers, among others.