New free trade pacts to stimulate India’s investment in Africa
India hopes to stimulate trade and investment in Africa with singing of a Tripartite Free Trade Agreement and beginning of talks for the creation of a Continental Free Trade Agreement in the region. “We have noted with interest, the recent announcements regarding the signing of a Tripartite Free Trade Agreement and the launch of negotiations for the creation of a Continental Free Trade Agreement in Africa. These are important developments and will stimulate further trade and investment,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday. Speaking at the four-day India-Africa Forum Summit, being held in New Delhi, the Minister said, “The international trade regime is another very important aspect that shapes the possibilities for promotion of improved livelihoods and standards of living in our countries.” She said that India has allowed duty-free market access for LDCs (least developed countries) and the trade programme, which includes 98% of tariff lines, has been extend to 34 African countries to increase their exports to India. “We also have strong ongoing cooperation through training and negotiations on global trade issues, including at WTO to protect and promote the legitimate interests of developing countries, especially the LDCs,” Swaraj said. India-Africa economic engagements have witnessed rapid growth over the last one and half decade. Bilateral trade has increased by 20 times to reach about $72 billion till 2014-2015. India’s economic activity with Africa has nearly doubled in the last five years. In the last decade, the Indian government has approved almost $9 billion in concessional line of credit for about 140 projects in over 40 African countries and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). Nearly 60 projects have been completed so far. India’s investments in Africa are mainly private-sector driven and range across sectors including agriculture, education, infrastructure, telecommunications, hydrocarbons, manufacturing, IT, water treatment, pharmaceuticals and automobiles. Investments in these sectors have helped Africa not only attain industrialisation but also improved their domestic market achieve more economic and technological growth. During the conference, Swaraj met several African leaders and assured them of more Indian investments in their key sectors. African leaders pointed out the abundance of raw materials in their countries and urged India to increase investment in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, health, energy and capacity building.
October 28, 2015 | 3:19pm IST.