Johannesburg: Trade between India and South Africa has exceeded the USD 10 billion target set by the leaders of the two countries, Consul General Anju Ranjan announced at a reception here on Wednesday to celebrate India’s 73rd Republic Day.
“India-South Africa trade has crossed the landmark. We have achieved the 100 per cent target and now it has increased from USD 10 billion to USD 11.6 billion,” Ranjan said.
This was despite the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries, she added.
“We were able to organise many commercial activities despite the challenges of lockdowns, sometimes in India and sometimes in South Africa.
“We held many virtual exhibitions and buyer-seller meets in different sectors like ceramics, telecom, agriculture, printing and textiles during this period to improve bilateral trade between the two countries,” Ranjan said.
“In between, we were able to send delegations to India for physical buyer-seller meets and exhibitions for food processing and handicrafts,” the diplomat said as she highlighted that new ties were forged through visits to the various provinces of South Africa.
“Notwithstanding the pandemic, the improvement in trade relations between our two countries is a positive step. We aspire to do much more in the coming months in the areas of spices, IT, telecom, mining, pharma and textiles,” Ranjan said.
In his keynote address, High Commissioner Jaideep Sarkar lauded the Indian companies who were contributing to the economic development of South Africa.
“I am happy to say that over 150 Indian companies have invested more than USD 10 billion in South Africa, employing over 20,000 South African nationals. These companies bring critical skills, technology and entrepreneurship and create jobs, income and wealth for both India and South Africa,” he said.
Sarkar also congratulated the global Indian diaspora, which he said is now an influential community.
“We are equally proud of the Indian diaspora in South Africa, whose journey since 1860 is a story of struggle, sacrifice and hardship. Its contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle and later to building a free, democratic and multi-racial South Africa is well-recognised,” he said.
“India has always been an all-weather friend of South Africa, and Indians and Africans have had historically close ties spanning centuries. We look to the diaspora to further expand, enhance and enrich these bonds in the years to come,” Sarkar added.
Maropene Ramokgopa, Special Adviser on International Relations to President Cyril Ramaphosa and a former Consul General in India, said the Red Fort Declaration signed by the late president Nelson Mandela and then Indian prime minister HD Deve Gowda in 1997 paved the way for the successful trade relations between the two countries.
“The Red Fort Declaration has really been able to assist us to be able to reach a lot of bilateral trade and also broad policies that we share today. If it was not for that declaration, I do not believe that we would have been able to be where we are today,” she said.
“India and South Africa have been working together to reshape the international agenda in many international groupings, from the corporate world to the G20,” Ramokgopa added.
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