South Africa wants to bridge the small and medium enterprise (SME) sectors in India and S. Africa so that the SMEs from both the sides can take advantage of global opportunities, said H E Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, in an interactive session organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Emphasising the need to expand the value added trade between the two countries, the President said, “We need to strengthen and develop linkages between the SME sectors of the two countries so that they may take advantage of global opportunities. ”

“SME platform could help expand exchanges between the two sides. CII has been active in this area and has assisted in SME capacity-building in South Africa,” he added.

He also suggested that the historical ties between India and South Africa need to be converted into a strong economic partnership. India is a very important partner to South Africa at all three levels – political, economic social.

President Zuma urged Indian and South African businessmen to work towards increasing bilateral trade between the our countries from the present USD 4.5 bn to USD 10 bn by 2012.

He mentioned that ‘India is one of the most attractive destinations for FDI inflows and also offers a very large consumer market. A strong relation between both the countries would build long term capacities to effectively compete in the global market, he emphasized.

He mentioned that the large business delegation of more than 200 members accompanying him are very keen in doing business in India in diverse sectors such as ICT, Transport, Infrastructure, Agriculture, Financial Services, Energy & Mining, Pharma and Healthcare to name a few.

Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Anand Sharma, during the interaction said that India shares its icons and heroes with South Africa and has similar patterns of history, challenges and dreams.

He emphasized that the cooperation opportunities in areas of Agro processing and Infrastructure are enormous and must be exploited to the fullest.  He affirmed that India was less impacted in the recent downturn owing to its strong domestic demand and it now aspires to achieve double digit growth in the near future.

Hari Bhartia, President, CII & Co-chairman & Managing. Director, Jubilant Organosys Ltd, outlined an agenda for both the countries for enhancing economic relations. ‘We must expedite the PTA talks between India and SACU towards rapid conclusion. The issues on market access and legal matters that have been identified need to be quickly resolved. Further, there is need to diversify and expand our baskets of traded goods’, he stated.

Ratan Tata Chairman, Tata Sons Ltd, emphasized on leveraging upon complementary skills and strengths. Both the countries can develop a worthwhile entrepreneurial environment.

During the session, there was a launch of an India – South Africa CEOs Forum. CEOs Forum is expected to provide an institutional framework for strengthening and deepening the business relationship between our two countries. The Conference also witnessed the signing of important MoUs between J M Financial  & First Rand Bank SA and also between Green Harvest & KZN AC Industrial SA. – See more at: