India prepares to unveil new trade terms with Africa

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By Lee Mwiti

Officials at the ongoing India-Africa summit remained tight-lipped Saturday over details of new initiatives to be announced when Indian Premier Manmohan Singh visits the headquarters of the Africa Union next week for the second India-Africa summit.

Sources however said a raft of new trade pacts would be announced in addition to a new aid package for African Union members in what will be a closely watched meeting in India’s bid to counter China’s growing influence on the continent.

A flurry of last minute meetings was being held to hammer out final details of the framework of action and final communique ahead of the heads of state meeting.

“I am glad that through the frank exchanges that have taken place, more than 90 per cent of the [bilateral agreements] have been agreed,” said Mr Ruben Maye, the chair of the AU permanent representatives committee.

At the first Indo-Africa summit in New Delhi in 2008 India announced some $5.4 billion in credit lines and $500m in grants to the continent. Disbursement has however been slow with only about $2 billion used so far, leading to a school of thought that India could instead choose to tighten that agreement instead.

“Certainly there will be tangibles, but we are not in a position to steal the thunder or prejudge the outcome of deliberations by officials, said Mr Vishnu Prakash, the Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson.

The status of initiatives announced at the first India-Africa summit remains unclear with the Joint Plan of Action finalised only last year, overshooting the deadline by a year.

With India unable to match China’s raw spending power, it has resulted to skills and technological transfer which form a key plank if its so-called “soft-power” approaches.

As part of this, four key institutes have been identified by the AU in Uganda, Botswana, Ghana and Burundi which will act as incubation points.

Bilateral trade between the two regions stood at $46 billion in 2010, and India has signalled its interest in growing that to US$70 billion by 2015.

India has also chosen to engage African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in a departure from previous engagements.

“This new paradigm of co-operation is premised on Africa’s own development of Pan-African institutions and development programmes,” said Mr Vivek Katju, vice minister for the external affairs ministry.

India’s economy grew at 8.6 per cent in the last financial year, and this phenomenal growth rate means it has had to turn to Africa for agricultural and mineral resources to feed surging demand.

Trade ministers meeting here called for more countries to take up an offer by India to exempt certain tariff lines from duty when entering the Indian market.

 

  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit
  • Africa-India Summit