Following the Commerce Ministry's success with the "Focus Latin America" programme, which saw increased trade between India and the continent, the Government of India is now focusing on the vast potential offered by Africa and, in particular, the sub-Saharan region. Under "Focus Africa: A Programme for Enhancing Trade with the sub-Saharan African Region", the government is trying to boost economic relations with seven countries in the region-South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Ethiopia. Trade with these countries accounted for 70 per cent of the trade in the sub-Saharan region in 2000-01.
In fact, trade between India and sub-Saharan Africa has been growing at a tremendous pace, by as much as 280 per cent in the last nine years. India's total trade with the region in 2000-01 was $3.4 billion. Of this, exports stood at $1.8 billion and imports at $1.5 billion. Traditional imports include petroleum, crude and products, gold and silver, pearls, organic and inorganic chemicals, coal, coke, wood and fertilisers etc. And exports ….
The Indian government plans to step up exports of machinery and instruments, transport equipment, telecom and information technology, textiles, and drugs and pharmaceuticals.
At a recent seminar organised for development of regional trade between India and sub-Saharan Africa, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said that the government wanted to improve financing of exports, establish an expeditious system of clearance of overseas investments for PSUs, bridge the gap on account of language and harmonise the manufacturing standards of the region. The government has implemented measures to raise the level of interaction by organising Joint Trade Committees seminars, conducting meetings of Joint Business Councils, aggressive awareness creating drives by the commercial wings of the Indian missions, preparation of product catalogues in CD form, and providing assistance to recognise SSI units for opening and maintaining warehouses.
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