2 May 2012
President Jacob Zuma, in talks with visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday, extended an invitation to the Asian nation to invest in South Africa’s massive, state-led infrastructure drive.
“We have once again extended an invitation to Indian business to invest in our infrastructure development programme, in which we are to invest more than R800-billion until 2014,” Zuma said following his meeting in Pretoria with Patil, who began his state visit to the country on Wednesday.
Zuma noted the fact that relations between the two countries dated back many years, that South Africa and India also shared a history of struggle against colonial oppression and racism, as well as “deep social, economic and cultural ties”.
R111-billion trade target for 2014
While trade was increasing steadily, “we should all work to reach even higher figures”, Zuma told journalists.
According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, trade between the two countries stood at R48.2-billion as of November 2011, with South African exports at R21.9-billion and imports from India at R26.3-billion.
The two countries have set a bilateral trade target of R111-billion to be reached by 2014.
Patil said relations between South African and India had taken on a robust and dynamic character, adding that strong institutional frameworks for co-operation in the economic, political and technological fields were in place.
“Our bilateral relations today are wide-ranging, multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial,” Patil told journalists. “Our shared and abiding commitment to the ideals of democracy has only reinforced our close and friendly ties.”
‘Opportunities need to be explored’
Since the establishment of full diplomatic relations between South Africa and India in 1993, numerous high-level visits have taken place between the two countries, with cooperation agreements signed in trade, investment, education, defence, and information and communication technology (ICT).
“We have agreed to monitor the implementation of various agreements that exist,” Patil said, adding that they were looking into expanding these into areas including health, science and technology and infrastructure.
“We felt that considerable opportunities need to be explored,” said Patil, adding that India was also interested in working with South Africa to develop a Ghandi heritage site in the country.
Zuma said the two presidents had looked at ways in which “we can further translate our historical ties into meaningful socio-economic development cooperation.”