India Hopeful on African Trade Pacts

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The battle for economic influence in Africa may be heating up, with India saying it expects to complete at least one new trade deal with African countries before the end of the year.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said Tuesday he was confident New Delhi is close to a preferential trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union. He said that deal will likely be concluded by December.

India and China have been vying for resources and markets in Africa as both countries look to expand their economies, though Indian officials deny there is any competition.

Sharma also said Tuesday that India planned to initiate trade talks with two other African trade zones, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Economic Community of West African States .

Trade between India and African hit $46 billion in 2010 and Indian officials are aiming to increase that figure to more than $70 billion a year by 2014.

Most of India's trade contacts with Africa have come through the initiative of private companies, while China has focused more on government-to-government deals.

Sharma said Tuesday India that New Delhi is hoping to provide African countries with technology to facilitate mining and exploration.

The Indian government has also been promoting an initiative to link students and hospitals in Africa with institutions in India via satellite through what it calls its pan-African e-network project.

India says 30 African countries have already joined the initiative.