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Huge potential exists to boost trade with Africa: Nirmala Sitharaman

New delhi: Tapping the potential in renewable energy, pharma and healthcare can boost economic ties between India and Africa, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today. She said the two-way trade between India and Africa increased to $56.69 billion in 2015-16 from $51.67 billion in 2010-11.

There was a “good increase in trade but opportunities do exist. The newer sectors in which we can have greater interaction, engagement and productive relationship are renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and healthcare,” the Commerce and Industry Minister said.

She added that both sides can collaborate for joint research in order to combat pandemics such as HIV AIDS. Sitharaman said currently the global trade scenario is dim but it also throws big opportunities for businesses of India and Africa.

“We have to seize that opportunity and build on what we can achieve,” she said, adding India is relaxing its FDI norms and improving business climate to attract investments. The minister further said India can play a major role in the ensuring food security of the African region. She was speaking at the India-Africa Project Partnership conclave.

Speaking at the event, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said that India’s economy is growing at a faster rate and “you have a bright spot where you can do business”.

The engagement model of India with Africa is different from other countries as “we engage for the benefit” of people of both the sides.

Uganda Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said that enterprises of both the regions can increase collaboration in areas like tourism, ICT, infrastructure and manufacturing. Allaying fears about security related issues in Africa, he assured the businesses and said “Africa is essential stable and very secure”.

Seeking investments from India, Swaziland King Mswati – III said Africa is looking at India to explore opportunities in sectors including renewable energy and financing of infrastructure development.
PTI