India sees Africa as a natural partner and together, we can have a positive influence on the future global economic order, minister for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman said, while speaking at the 4th India-Africa Trade Ministers' Meeting in New Delhi on Friday.
She said both India and Africa face similar challenges and concerns and the world economy offers tremendous opportunities to the two fastest growing economies.
The 4th India-Africa Trade Ministers' Meeting (IATMM) held in New Delhi on Friday on the eve of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit on 29 October 2015 in Delhi.
Africa was represented by 37 delegations comprising trade ministers and officials of eight regional economic communities from countries such as Algeria, Angola, Benin, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe amongst others.
Addressing the trade ministers, minister for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman said that since the first India-Africa Forum Summit in Delhi in 2008, India had extended duty-free tariff preference to least developed countries (LDCs) in order to open the Indian market to greater exports from African countries.
Since April 2014, the scheme has been further expanded and as of now India provides duty-free market access on about 96 per cent of India's tariff lines and another 2.2 per cent tariff lines to LDCs thus providing benefits on 98.2 per cent of all tariff lines.
In addition, India has been one of the first countries to provide a services package for LDCs and has also waived visa fees for businessmen from LDC countries travelling to India.
Highlighting the importance of India-Africa Summit, Sitharaman said, ''the summits have become a unique platform where the government of India and African partners identify areas of cooperation through dialogue and strive to expanding and enhancing the partnership. Cooperation in trade, technology and capacity building form the basis of our relationship. Greater cooperation in agriculture and agro-processing, engineering, textiles, leather, pharmaceuticals to name a few would have a positive bearing on the food security, improvement in health situation and creation of additional jobs in both Africa and India.''
She highlighted that value addition is the key to development and enhancing livelihood opportunities for people. India has made significant progress transforming itself from being an importer to a net exporter in many sectors since independence. India would endeavour to share its experience and expertise in partnering with African countries which have potential for value addition, creating jobs, enhancing livelihood and ultimately attaining a better quality of life, she said.
The 4th IATMM reviewed the progress in the implementation of commitments of earlier India Africa Trade Ministers' Meetings and a review of existing trade and business relations between India and Africa.
The two sides also had discussions on duty-free tariff preference (DFTP) scheme and services waiver for LDCs and the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme (TAP). The round table on WTO issues was also held during the meeting. A meeting of the India Africa Business Forum was the highlight of the event.