In a bid to bolster trade relations and fast-track regional agreements, particularly in the oil and gas sector and maritime cooperation, trade ministers from the African continent will meet their Indian counterparts in the national capital on Friday.
Trade ministers, representatives and 400 businessmen from 53 nations of the region, will converge in New Delhi in the run-up to the India-Africa Summit to discuss ways to reinforce trade ties with India.
Speaking to FE, senior officials said: “Trade ministers along with 400 businessmen from the region will meet top ministers and industry captains at the India-Africa Trade Ministers’ Meeting (IATMM) being organised by the ministry of commerce and Industry.
The trade ministers from the region will discuss ways to bolster trade ties with India and fast-track regional agreements. And will provide an opportunity to take stock of our trade relations and explore the possibilities of taking our engagements to the next level,” they added.
Trade ministers of 53 countries have been extended invitations to participate in the 4th IATMM, along with the Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union Commission, and secretary-generals/heads of eight RECs in Africa.
The eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) include Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Secretary (west), ministry of external affairs, Navtej Sarna, said: “India’s current trade with Africa stands at around $75 billion and it has granted some $7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects in the past four years. India has implemented a total of 137 projects in 41 African countries during the said period, said Navtej Sarna, secretary (west), MEA.
A number of African countries, including Tanzania, Sudan, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda, have huge oil and gas reserves and India wants to invest in the sector to fuel its economic growth.
Ties between India and the 54 African countries assumes importance in the face of two mega regional trading agreements being negotiated — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) among 12 countries including the US, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.
Significantly, the 10th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which will be held in Nairobi on December 15-18, is expected to see the developed world led by the US and the EU in a stand-off against developing countries led by India, China and others.
Sources said the negotiations that will take place at the trade meet on October 23, would seek to form a support base of partnership in countering such heavy-handedness from big blocs.
Besides forming a common partnership on international trading concerns, the India-Africa Forum Summit would also see India and the 54 African countries forming a partnership on global issues like reform of the UN Security Council for greater representation and on climate change. The discussions on climate change are set to figure in a major way at the summit, especially ahead of ‘Conference of the Parties’ in Paris next month.