12 August 2005
Satyabrata Pal, India’s new High Commissioner to South Africa, has committed himself to strengthening cultural and economic relations between the two countries.
Briefing media in Durban on Wednesday, Pal described relations between the two countries as “very warm”, adding that if the two countries “got it right” it could benefit both South Africans and Indians.
He said India and South Africa had created strong bonds in all fields over the past 11 years, and he would work to build on this relationship.
Trade between the two countries had grown by 25% since 2003, he said, with India’s exports to South Africa totalling R4.5-billion and SA’s exports to India R3.7-billion in 2004.
“But we have not even scratched the surface,” Pal said. “There are so many opportunities in the field of culture and tourism. We would like to see more experience of South African culture in India. Also much could be made in tourism. We need to explore and expand this over the coming years.”
Many major Indian companies already operate successfully in South Africa, including Sahara computers, Tata Steel and Tata automotive company.
Tata Steel is currently looking to set up a smelter in Richards Bay.
Pal said India was interested in South Africa’s technology in coal-to-oil conversion and nuclear power.
India could also help South Africa manage its water resources and agricultural production, he said.
Pal also gave his support to efforts by African leaders to secure a seat in the United Nations’ Security Council.
He said the African continent should be represented on an expanded UN Security Council because “most of the decisions and resolutions taken in the council revolve around development in Africa”.
“We have said that composition of the Security Council is no longer relevant to the current situation. The developing world needs a voice and say on the Security Council and we should agree to its expansion for full and non-full members.”