South Africa is considering the 'Make In India' initiative a key area of interest at a time when the country is keen on boosting bilateral trade and has placed India as a priority destination for improving the business ties. “Prime Minister Modi’s 'Make In India' is of great interest to us. This will see much more participation of South African companies in India. Over the next few years, we will see more of our firms taking up industrial projects that support the development of airports and seaports in India. Our defence industry is also coming in a big way to the country,” said Pule I Malefane, consul general of South Africa in Mumbai, today here. Meanwhile, a 30-member South African business delegation led by the department of Trade and Industry is in India as part of sixth trade and investment drive for exploring potential partnerships in pharma, manufacturing and information technology. The delegation is keen on diversifying trade basket by focusing on value-addition by tying up with Indian industry. “Value-addition would form an important element in our bilateral trade even as South Africa had traditionally been exporting gold, diamonds, coal and other raw materials to India,” said deputy minister of trade and industry Mzwandile Masina today. Masina said the imposition of restrictions on gold import had dealt a considerable blow to the bilateral trade, which stood at 90 billion Rand in the fiscal 2013-14.
While China is the top trading partner for it, India is at a distant eighth. During 2009-14, South Africa had picked up investment to the tune of 80 billion Rand from the Indian companies, Masina said. On what were the issues affecting business, a high commission official accompanying the minister said, “India has a difficult business environment and our companies are facing non-trade barriers. While Indian banks SBI, Bank of Baroda and ICICI are free to expand anywhere in our country with one licence, whereas in India, our First Rand Bank was not being allowed to move beyond Mumbai.” However, he said, issues like this and others were being discussed with the Indian government. Masina said the business delegation would be meeting Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu today to express their interest in partnering the state government in its plan to develop three new cities with modern airports. They would also call on Telangana industries commissioner to discuss business.
South Africa is expecting India would kickstart the official process for issuing the "10-year multiple long term CEO visa" for the top business officials. The exclusive arrangement had been agreed as part of the BRICS common understanding. Masina said South Africa was the first in the emerging countries club to put in place the exclusive visa.