The President of the Republic of South Africa,
His Excellency Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa,
Leaders of the corporate world from India and South Africa;
Ladies & Gentlemen.
I am delighted to be here with you all at the India-South Africa Business Forum. We are deeply honoured to have with us, Your Excellency Mr. President.
It is a matter of great privilege that you will be the Guest of Honour at our 70th Republic Day Parade tomorrow. Our partnership spans the un-breakable bonds of history that have linked the national movements of India and South Africa.
Now, our partnership is about a shared and prosperous future, which realizes the dreams of Madiba and Mahatma for our people. We seek constantly to engage and collaborate for a better future for our people, and also the world.
We sealed a strategic partnership 22 years ago through the Red Fort Declaration. I believe that continuous dialogue between the two old friends and partners has brought us closer in every way. We remain stead-fast in our commitment for closer cooperation, bilaterally as well as multilaterally In recent times, there are new beginnings and interesting growth stories between two old friends.
Trade between India and South Africa is on the up-swing, and has crossed the 10 billion dollar mark in 2017-18. Two major business initiatives in 2018 have helped this along. One was the India-South Africa Business Summit held in Johannesburg in April 2018. The other was Invest in India Business Forum, also in Johannesburg in November 2018.
However, there is great potential still. I call upon all Indian and South African government agencies, investment promotion organizations as well as business leaders of both countries to work pro-actively to realize the true potential. I was pleased to see that there has been significant participation and presence from African countries in our States.
In my earlier role as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I was happy to welcome prominent participants from South Africa. It is gratifying that the Vibrant Gujarat last week once again welcomed our friends and partners from South Africa in large numbers. One day was specifically marked as 'Africa Day'.
This shows that our bonds are much deeper than we generally realize. It also wonderful for our bilateral economic partnership. Ladies and Gentlemen, India's economy currently at 2.6 trillion dollars is the fastest growing major economy of the world.
And, we are on our way to becoming the fifth largest economy globally. India has jumped to the 77th position in the latest edition of World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report – improving 65 places in last four years.
We are one of the top FDI destinations listed by UNCTAD. But, we are not satisfied. On a daily basis, we are making necessary changes and reforms in important sectors of the economy.
Our special programmes such as Make in India, Digital India and Start-Up India have caught the imagination of the world.
Our industry has progressed towards Industry Four Point Zero and other innovative technologies including Artificial Intelligence, 3-D Printing, Robotics. Our Government is making all efforts to increase the living standards of our 1.3 billion people, who form one-sixth of the humanity.
We are committed to building a ‘New India’ with next generation infrastructure and with emphasis on speed, skill and scale.
May I also take this opportunity to congratulate you,
on the various dynamic initiatives launched by you in 2018 towards your vision of a New South Africa. We wish you well in your efforts to attract Foreign Direct Investment into South-Africa, as well as for the creation of over one million jobs for the youth in three years.
I am happy that India is contributing to these objectives. Our investment into South Africa is constantly growing. This has approached 10 billion dollars, creating over 20,000 jobs locally.
As a brotherly nation, India will be happy to share its experience in policy reforms and setting up ground level agencies. We encourage even more investment by Indian companies in South Africa and are confident that more South African companies will also enter the Indian market.
I assure you that New India would welcome you to look at all available opportunities, particularly in Food & Agro processing, Deep mining, Defence, Fin-tech, Insurance and Infrastructure sectors.
Likewise, India could also partner with South Africa in Start-ups, Health care & Pharma, Bio-tech, IT and IT enabled sectors.
We are delighted to be a part of the South Africa skills story through the recent launch of the Gandhi Mandela Skills Institute. This initiative seeks to empower the youth.
Another important collaboration between our two countries could be in the Gems and Jewelry sector. Both countries could explore avenues for direct procurement of diamond.
It will ensure economies of scale, and also reduce the cost for both buyers and sellers. South Africa could also join hands with India in our campaign for New and Renewable Energy, specifically through the "International Solar Alliance”.
Simplification of the existing visa regime for business-men and tourists, and direct connectivity would further ease business and people-to-people exchanges.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is huge untapped potential in the India-South Africa partnership. We must work together for a new era of shared growth and prosperity for the benefit of our two countries and peoples.
The visit of Your Excellency provides us with a vital opportunity to take this relationship forward.
I am committed, Excellency, to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this shared endeavor.
Thank you very much.