April 22, 2021

The Times of Bengal

Manusher Sathe,Manusher Pashe

Africa Free Trade Agreement will help augmenting the India-Africa bilateral Economic & Trade Cooperation

6 min read

India- Africa relation will continue to embark on mutual trust and faith in all spheres and will provide a mechanism to further play defining role in supporting Africa’s economic integration and deeper engagement in the region in the industrial and infrastructural development projects deliberated Mr. Amararam Gurjar, IFS, Director (E & SA), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India in the session of India- Africa Day: Project Partnership-The Way Forward during the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s International Week.

 

Mr. Amararam Gurjar, while giving a background out the India- Africa trade relation, shared that in the early 21st century, the government of India had taken the initiative to engage African nations more actively through India- Africa forum summit. 

 

The partnership is based on the pillars of development partnership assistance, training and capacity building, trade and investment, defense, and maritime security. These pillars were further defined by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visits to Africa where he defined principles of India which make India Africa’s most reliable partner in its development growth and progress. 

 

He shared that India had kept its critical supply lines open to Africa during the times of the pandemic. He discussed the investments, missions, and projects running between India and Africa to promote trade and business in both nations. Talking about the African continent free trade area, he mentioned that this will help to further develop and expand their business ties in Africa. 

 

H.E. Mr. Anjani Kumar, Ambassador, Embassy of India, Malis mentioned that India- Africa partnership can be seen at three-level i.e. government, institutions, and enterprises. India and Africa are playing a pivotal role in shaping each other’s development journeys. He shared that India and Mali need to increase their bilateral trade and investment relations in the times to come. The priority areas of Mali match with India and India’s program of Digital India can be leveraged in Mali. While India has being a vaccine hub for the world including Africa, India’s private business enterprise will have to look at the growing opportunities in Mali and Africa more closely and be willing to take the calculative risk to expand the frontiers. 

 

H.E. Mr. Sugandh Rajaram, High Commissioner of India to Ghana emphasized the India-Ghana relations which have been deep-rooted resulted in multi-facet bilateral relations over the years. He shared that India is one of the largest trade partners and investors of Ghana. India has been one of the significant development partners to Ghana in the areas of rural development, agriculture development, irrigation, renewable energy, health, education, and general infrastructure. 

 

H.E. Ms. Judith Kan’goma Kapijimpanga, High Commissioner, High Commission of Zambia mentioned that Zambia shares a harmonious relationship with India for a long time. Sectors like mining, agriculture, transportation, education, science, and technology have the widespread presence of Indians in Zambia. She discussed the trade and business opportunities in Zambia in the sector such as manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, energy, infrastructure, and industrial parks. 

 

Mr. Sebastian Beliwine, Charge d’ Affaires, Ghana High Commission mentioned that India and Africa are heart to each other. While the pandemic has changed the world, business, and trade, it has also opened doors for networking and building stronger relations with other countries of the world. There are plans to industrialize Africa’s continent to accelerate the industrial development of Africa; boost Africa’s trade; eliminate bias and integrate deep relationship building in the African market to establish seamless trade exchange. The sectors which can be explored for trade include renewable energy, collaboration with MSME, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, IT, infrastructure, and skill development. 

 

Mr. Mahesh Patel, Founder & Chairman, Export Trading Group, Tanzania while lauding the initiative of PHD Chamber deliberated the opportunities available in the agriculture space which will help in the long term seamless supply and demand management. 

 

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sharma, Professor- Marketing Area, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade mentioned that Africa is a rising country and in the highest growth trajectory. Indo-African trade is highly important in the coming times which will help to open up more opportunities for business and trade in both nations. 

 

Mr. Jasveer Singh, Chief Development Officer, ARISE, UAE while sharing his industry perspective mentioned that India’s goal towards USD 5 Trillion Economy, tapping on Africa needs to be a priority. India needs to promote first-level manufacturing in the country making it a win-win situation for both countries at the same time creating employment opportunities in both nations. There is a need for the creation of an entrepreneurship cell for promoting entrepreneurship in both nations. 

 

Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his presidential address deliberated the importance of Africa which is the continent of the future offering maximum amount of business, economic and cultural opportunities. India has been taking positive steps to build cooperation to strengthen south-south cooperation as now the emphasis lies on diversifying our trade basket and transform trade linkages. Africa is becoming an attractive hub for foreign investors in the light of various economic, political, and social reforms resulting in a better business environment. 

 

Mr. Aggarwal apprised that PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be focusing on the enhancement of India-Africa partnerships in the coming times. India and Africa have emerged as strong trading partners with each other. The India-Africa trade partnership has seen phenomenal growth as our bilateral trade has jumped optimistically despite the pandemic. On the investment front, India has been a steady partner in African social, economic, and business development. Huge investments have been made by several Indian companies in sectors like infrastructure, telecom, education, IT, agriculture, etc. making India one of the largest investors in Africa. 

 

He mentioned that the government of India via its special mechanism such as the line of credit greatly contributed to socio-economic development. As emerging economies, India and Africa share common ground for a lot of verticals providing synergy for the development of economic cooperation between two nations. Efforts should be towards building upon the complementarities between the nations. They can offer abundant opportunities to each other in the key areas of cooperation like education and skill development; healthcare; agriculture and ago-processing; automobile; iron and steel; leatherwoods; mining, tourism, MSMEs, and many more. 

 

Mr. Saket Dalmia, Vice President, PHD Chamber while proposing the formal vote of thanks to all the delegates and participants, mentioned that India needs to harness its connection with Africa which will help to foster trade, business, and investment in times to come. 

 

Mr. Vivek Agarwala, Chair, International Affairs Committee for Africa, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his theme address mentioned that Africa is a land of origin and India’s economic engagement with African countries has been vibrant in recent times extending beyond trade and investment; technology transfers, knowledge sharing, skill development. India has always expressed optimism regarding the potential of the African continent. The nations need to focus on value-added products for trade and India needs to diversify its exports 

 

Mr. Saurabh Sanyal, Secretary General, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry while deliberating the prospects for India’s Trade and Investments in Africa mentioned that during the times of the pandemic, MSMEs from India changed their business rapidly and now it’s time for the MSME to venture into the African markets that is a land for opportunities. With the constant growth in the business and investments between India and Africa, the emerging future trends in India- Africa trade and investment relations can be in the areas of surging foreign investments; mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships on the rise; mounting telecom and ICT infrastructure investments; the new race for telecom spectrum ownership; the latest need for ICT training; flourishing banking and retailing; booming construction, agriculture, and tourism. 

 

The session was moderated by Mr. Naveen Seth, Assistant Secretary-General, PHD Chamber, and was attended by many industry stalwarts around the world. 

 

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