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Sunday, November 28, 2010

India-South Africa Relations: Strengthening South-South Cooperation

Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, paid an official visit to India from June 2-4, 2010. Both the countries have realized the growing need of each other and accordingly have started to diversify their relations. Both sides have underscored the importance of making the strategic partnership more result oriented and of greater direct benefit to the peoples of South Africa and India. Recognising that since the establishment of bilateral relations in November 1993, the two countries had established a framework for cooperation through bilateral and multilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. The basis of relationship has been shaped by three important agreements: the Red Fort Declaration of 1996, the Joint Declaration of 2003 and the Tshwane Declaration of 2006. Both the countries reaffirmed the importance of strengthening relations under the aegis of the India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) which affords both sides an opportunity to address a range of bilateral, as well as multilateral political and economic issues. They confirmed that the 8th Session of the JMC will take place in Delhi in 2010, allowing both sides to evaluate the implementation of bilateral agreements and decisions taken during the State Visit.
Both the nations welcomed the reconstitution of the India-South Africa CEOs’ Forum as an institutional mechanism for closer business interaction with Government support. They look forward to its first substantive meeting in South Africa along with an India Show in August 2010. In the regional context, President Zuma affirmed the importance of India as a partner of the African Union in the consolidation of peace and stability in the Continent, through its contributions to peacekeeping, and as a partner in the development of Africa through its support for the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). During the visit three major agreements were signed:
®      Air Services Agreement;
®      MoU on Cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sectors; and
®      MoU between the Diplomatic Academy of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and the Foreign Service Institute of India.
Besides that both sides expressed satisfaction at increasing cultural exchanges between the two countries and agreed to further promote educational exchanges including through University-to-University linkages and emphasized the need for further widening of cooperation in the field of science and technology. Both the sides noted that the MoU for cooperation in the field of Communications and Information Technologies has expired in September 2009 and called for an early renewal of the MOU and a meeting of The Joint Working Group to identify projects for joint cooperation in the ICT sector.
Positive developments:
1.      The bilateral trade had grown to the extent that India was now one of the top ten trading partners of South Africa. Both the sides have urged Indian and South African industry to work towards raising bilateral trade to US $ 10 billion by the year 2012.
1.2. There has been a healthy growth in two-way investment flows, which have increased substantially during the past five years.
2.      To strengthen the India-Africa Forum and to the advancement of the seven pillars of the Action Plan of the Framework for Cooperation launched in Delhi in March 2010. The Action Plan will intensify India-Africa cooperation in various fields including Commerce, Politics, Social Development and Capacity Building; Science, Technology, Research and Development; Tourism; Infrastructure, Energy and Environment and Media and Communication. With this in mind, the leaders undertook to work even more closely to reinvigorate their cooperation for Africa’s development.
3.      Both sides have agreed on the need to expedite the ongoing negotiations on the India-Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Preferential Trade Agreement so as to provide a significant incentive to business to explore mutually beneficial commercial opportunities and contribute to growing trade and investment relations. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), with a market size of over 500 Billion US Dollars and a population of 200 million people, is but one of the examples of the potential in Africa.
4.      Both the countries undertook mutual support for their candidature for non-permanent Security Council seats for 2011-2012. The World Bank Group’s Annual Doing Business Report for 2010 compared global regulation in 183 countries, from these global economies, South Africa ranked 34th for ease of doing business. In terms of overall competitiveness, South Africa was ranked 45th ahead of countries such as Poland and Mexico. South Africa was also ranked 18th most attractive Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) destination world-wide, according to the 2007 Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index compiled by the global management consulting firm, AT Kearney

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