President Jacob Zuma
Address to the South Africa-India Business Forum
Your Excellency Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi
Ministers in attendance
South African and Indian Business delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me a great pleasure to address this august occasion that further marks the advancement of relations between South Africa and India.
Our two countries enjoy deep ties dating back to many years. We pride ourselves for having hosted Mahatma Gandhi, whose political consciousness was largely forged here in South Africa.
The friendship of the Indian people was ably demonstrated during our struggle against apartheid where they stood shoulder to shoulder with us.
Let me once again take this opportunity to express a word of gratitude on behalf of our government and the people of South Africa to the people of India and many friends in the international community who played a critical role in the liberation of South Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
South Africa and India face the common challenge of turning the legacy of underdevelopment and poverty into sustained economic growth and socio-economic improvement. We have to do this in a world in which economic power is still very unevenly balanced between developed and developing countries.
Our engagement through forums of this nature reflects our common determination to take our destiny into our own hands.
Our two countries hold enormous trade and investment potential that needs to be unleashed through closer strategic cooperation. The South Africa – India Business Forum will serve as a platform to achieving our goals.
We need to explore ways and means of continuing, increasing and diversifying our trade and investment initiatives in the respective economies.
Our countries are major players in the global economy and share a common vision of shaping the development agenda through IBSA, BRICS and other related platforms.
In this vein we have set ourselves ambitious goals, including a bilateral target of advancing trade to the level of eighteen billion US dollars by 2018. Achieving this target will require an increase in private sector deliberations as well as government focusing on the resolution of barriers that are impeding the expansion of trade amongst others.
The government of South Africa continues to play its part in advancing our socio-economic blueprint, the National Development Plan (NDP).
The NDP provides for a coherent and pragmatic framework for the transformation of our economy. Through the NDP we aim to boost economic growth, especially through improving the education system and through skills development.
We are also aiming to improve our performance in productive sectors of the economy such as manufacturing.
The NDP is complemented by the 9 Point Plan for reigniting economic growth, which focuses on areas such as growing the oceans economy through Operation Phakisa, support for SMME’s, building the agriculture and agro – processing value chain and encouraging private sector investment.
To attract further investment in value-added manufacturing sectors in close proximity to the source of raw materials, South Africa has established Special Economic Zones which offer unparalleled opportunities for Indian investment. A number of these (SEZs) have been established across the country in various provinces and they are complimented by a range of new support measures over and above the measures provided for generic investment.
Coupled with these, is the development of an urgent plan to increase the level of beneficiation in the following areas: iron ore and steel; platinum group metals; polymers; titanium; upstream mining inputs and the energy value chain.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These areas offer numerous opportunities for synergies and complementarities between our two countries and I encourage you to optimise on the possibilities that exist.
Furthermore, the Department of Trade and Industry has recently launched our 8th Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) which is a significant step towards strengthening our efforts to promote long term industrialisation and diversification beyond traditional commodities.
It is in this vein that I invite Indian companies to partner with us in advancing our investment initiatives across a number of sectors that offer high employment and growth multipliers.
Within this context, we recognise the level of Indian investment in the South African economy which amount to a capital expenditure of sixty-two billion rands.
South African investment into India has been growing steadily with investments in financial services, agro processing, hospitality and ICT.
We however need to explore measures for increased investment in a manner that will allow for enhanced trade in respective economies.
As of 2015 our level of bilateral trade stood at ninety-four billion rands and we have not reached our target of one hundred and fifty billion rands of 2010 as set in New Delhi, during my visit and as such we have to intensify our efforts and enhance value added exports.
These efforts should also consider us partnering with regards to the vast opportunities that the African continent has to offer.
Africa is generally regarded as the second fastest growing region in the world with a population of around one billion people.
According to the 2015 World Bank Report, six of the 10 fastest growing economies globally in 2014 emanated from Africa, while the African Continent became the second most attractive investment destination in the world – ranking just behind North America.
Looking ahead, a McKinsey Report estimates that by 2020 the Continent is projected to have a collective GDP of 2.6 trillion US dollars, over two hundred million consumers, and a working-age population of 1.1 billion.
In support of these indicators and working towards an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, African countries in 2015 adopted the Agenda 2063 continental plan for the next fifty years, to ensure transformation and sustainable development. A key priority that has been identified is market integration, represented by initiatives such as the Tripartite Free Trade Area and the Continental Free Trade Area.
The Continental Free Trade Area will see an integrated market of one billion people.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, these commitments present us with numerous opportunities for cooperation in critical sectors that will drive Africa’s industrialisation and create the so much needed jobs as well as intellectual capital.
It is within this context that I encourage cooperation between South African and Indian business for mutual benefit.
My government will consider appropriate instruments in advancing this initiative including the envisaged launch of the South Africa- India Joint Trade Committee.
Beyond bilateral cooperation, our partnership extends to the BRICS and IBSA fora. In this context active processes are underway to facilitate and implement plans on expanded trade and investment flows and to identify and address barriers to trade and investment among others.
A particular area of interest is the New Development Bank which is operational and has already approved its first tranche of projects in each of the member countries.
In this vein we look forward to India hosting the 8th BRICS Summit which, amongst others, will include Ministerial interactions, the meetings of the BRICS Business Council and the hosting of the first BRICS Trade Fair.
It is clear that we have various areas in which we are co-operating on and there are substantial and concrete opportunities that we can develop further.
We wish the business forum well.
You have an enormous responsibility to put all the ideas into action, and help us achieve our goals with regards to expanded trade relations.
The Presidency, Pretoria