Monday, November 29, 1999

India-S Africa CEO forum to be headed by Ratan Tata

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India's eagerness in strengthening its engagement with South Africa is reflected in the list of CEOs for the India-South Africa CEOs' forum. The list includes a number of captains from trade and industry. The forum, re-launched with the signing of the terms of reference by the two chairs of the forum during the recent visit of South African President Jacob Zuma to India, will be headed by Ratan Tata and Patrice Motsepe, executive-chairman, Afri-ca Rainbow Minerals.CEOs listed by the ministry of commerce and industry come from potential areas of bilateral cooperation which include banking and financial services, tourism, information technology, pharmaceuticals, automobiles and auto components.Companies including Dr Reddy's Labs, Dabur India, Ranbaxy, Cipla, Jet Airways, Kirloskar Brothers, and Apollo Tyres are included in the 16-member forum which is expected to have their first meeting during the 'India Show' in Johannesburg in the last week of August. Industries represented from the South African side include African Rainbow Minerals, Aspen Pharma, Mmakau Mining, PetroSA, Edison Corporation, Isidleke investments, amongst others.According to the terms of reference, companies from both sides may collaborate with each other in exploring oil and natural gas and other minerals. Collaboration may also be seen in the spheres of mining and the processing of diamonds.Also, there are immense opportunities in the fields of manufacturing and infrastructure development like roads, telecom and power and both the countries need to exploit them. Mutually beneficial cooperation in manufacturing and infrastructure development could be strengthened through closer policy dialogues and collaboration among the business enterprises.The members of the forum have agreed to hold formal meetings twice a year—once in India and once in South Africa. Though the forum was started about three years ago under the leadership of Ratan Tata and South African business leader Patrice Motsepe, it has not been very active.According to senior officials in the ministry of external affairs, "Both sides are looking for new ways to re-energise some of the bilateral negotiations which we are involved in (such as) the investment protection agreement, which we have been working on for some time but which has been stalled.""The multilateral level will see the South African Customs Union-India Preferential Trade Agreement, for which our negotiating team will be meeting again in the next few months," officials added.India is South Africa's tenth-largest foreign investor and the two countries have set a trade target of $7 billion-$20 billion by 2012. The two countries, which are also engaged in the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) trilateral, have set a target of taking IBSA trade between the three countries to $25 billion by 2015.

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