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India calls for increased trade relations with Africa
ndian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has called for increased trade relations with African countries. Inaugurating the first ever India-Africa Agrifood Summit in New Delhi in March, Pawar stressed on the importance of sharing experiences for mutual benefit. He said the summit –– organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Commerce and Agriculture Ministries and the World Bank –– should address resource management, mechanisation, backward and forward linkages, credit and markets. Pawar said that training and empowerment of human resources is India’s strength and a large number of experts from sub-Saharan Africa have received training in this country. He said there are opportunities for India-Africa collaboration in agricultural research, crop varieties that require less water, eco-friendly fertilisers, hightech agricultural and soil and water man-
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said that training and empowerment of human resources is India’s strength and a large number of experts from sub-Saharan Africa have received training in this country.
agement. India has always been a keen collaborator in development of technologies and scientific research and sharing them with other developing countries, the Minister said. World Bank Country-Director for India Rachid Benmessoud said that India can play an important role in the emergence of Africa in the 21st century and can help in developing its agriculture potential. He expressed satisfaction over the measures taken by India in encouraging self-help groups to play key roles in the field of agriculture. Africa can benefit from the experience of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Jharkhand, which are reaping the benefit of investments in economic empowerment, he said. In his welcome address, FICCI president Habil Khorakiwala said that industry and the governments of both the countries should work together to increase bilateral trade and economic cooperation. ■
Exporters told to focus on Africa, the Caribbean
xporters must now prepare chambers, export promotion councils country-specific strategies to tap and senior officials from the government. the growing trade potential The Board of Trade –– set up in April among emerging markets, specially tar2005 with 39 members under the chairgeted at Africa, the Caribbean and the manship of industrialist Kumar Russian Federation, Commerce and Mangalam Birla –– advises the governIndustry Minister Kamal Nath has said. ment on India’s foreign trade policy and “If we do not occupy the space now, how to push the country’s exports to somebody else will,” the Minister told achieve the desired targets. the fourth meeting of the Board of Trade, At the meeting, representatives of the ahead of presenting the annual suppleFederation of Indian Chambers of ment for India’s trade policy in early Commerce and Industry called for April. greater focus on labour-intensive indusKamal Nath said India had managed tries and those that have large employto reach the target set in 2004 to double ment potential. its exports and corner a 1-percent share of Commerce & Industry Minister Kamal Nath They also wanted transaction costs on the global trade, but added that the need exports pruned. “A World Bank study of the hour was to target new, non-traditional markets. points out that the transaction cost per container is as high as “When in August 2004, the United Progressive Alliance $865 in India against $338 in China and $481 in Indonesia,” (UPA) government set the target of doubling India’s share of chamber president Habib Khorakiwala said. global merchandise trade in five years, many of you found it Exporters were critical of the imposition of services tax and to be too ambitious,” the Minister said. minimum alternate tax since it eroded the competitiveness of “Yet, these three years have proved us right,” he told the their exports and urged Kamal Nath to take up the issue with meeting, attended by the representatives of various industry the Finance Ministry. ■