1. 15 ministers deployed for govt’s Africa trade push

15 ministers deployed for govt’s Africa trade push

With bilateral trade between India and Africa targeted to touch $90 billion this year, the government has designated 15 ministers of states (MoSs) as special envoys to travel to 53 African countries to extend Prime minister Narendra Modi's invitation for one of the biggest summits on Africa ever hosted by India.

By: | New Delhi | Published: July 15, 2015 12:02 AM

With bilateral trade between India and Africa targeted to touch $90 billion this year, the government has designated 15 ministers of states (MoSs) as special envoys to travel to 53 African countries to extend Prime minister Narendra Modi’s invitation for one of the biggest summits on Africa ever hosted by India.

The MoSs, including V K Singh, Dharmendra Pradhan, Mukhtar AbbasNaqvi and R S Rudy, have already started visiting the countries to hand over the invitation for the third edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) to be held in October.

To take the bilateral engagement between India and Africa to a new level, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met the envoys of these countries to update them on the arrangements and the agenda of IAFS. The first IAFS summit was held in New Delhi in 2008 and the second one in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in 2011.

Diplomatic sources told FE: “This is the biggest diplomatic event Indiahas hosted in three decades. There will be the heads of states of 53 countriesfrom the African continent and the African Union. The last two African summits that took place in New Delhi were represented by just 14 countries from thecontinent.”

With the government expecting a large number of delegates for the summit, the government has zeroed in on the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex adjoining the Delhi secretariat for hosting the five-day IAFS, which is expected to be attended by nearly 1,000 delegates including heads of government, ministers,government officials, business leaders and others.

India and Africa together account for a huge market of 2.2 billion people with acombined GDP of more than $3 trillion, with India being Africa’s fourth-largest trading partner. Over the years, bilateral cooperation has diversified across several sector.

Food security is a common concern of both India and Africa. Most parts of Africa are endowed with fertile lands and water resources. The challenge lies in harnessing these natural resources to usher in a Green Revolution across the continent.

Both sides, along with their industry leaders, are expected to deliberate onthe need for greater cooperation in agriculture and agro-processing. Africa’s farm sector is expected to grow to the tune of $1 trillionby 2030, although this growth will largely depend on adequate technology infusion.

Further, in boosting Africa’s agriculture production, India too can meet its food needs with imports from Africa, especially pulses, where Indiafaces a huge shortfall. Besides, Indian industry could also help African governments to establish agriculture vocational training schools. Cheap land and labour costs in Africa are attracting a number of Indian firms with interest in agriculture.

A large number of people in EastAfrican countries, such as Kenya, work in the cultivation of tea, coffee, corn, vegetables, sugarcane, wheat and fruits, among other things. The Indian government acts as a facilitator to the whole process rather than the main player. It is supporting the conventional new greenfieldforeign direct investments; merger and acquisition purchases of existingfirms; public-private partnerships; specific tariff reductions onagricultural goods imported to India through the negotiation of regionalbilateral trade and investment treaties, and double taxation (avoidance) agreements.

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