Highlighting the increase in African nation's trade with India, President Jacob Zuma has asked the BRICS members to use the bloc's Business Council as a platform to explore new models and approaches towards more equitable development and inclusive growth in the world.
Opening the Council meeting yesterday, President Jacob Zuma highlighted that total trade with India, which is South Africa's sixth largest trading partner, grew substantially from R53 billion (USD 5.23 billion) in 2011 to R67 billion (USD 6.61 billion) in 2012, representing a growth of over 26 per cent.
Speaking at the inaugural BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Business Council meeting, Zuma said the strength of the alliance was amplified by the fact that BRICS countries accounted for 43 per cent of the world's population.
Zuma said there was potential within the group, adding that business leaders should take advantage of opportunities present and urged business to advance key issues in the BRICS economies.
"Within South Africa, there is a host of opportunities as well. We invite participation in six areas, which are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism," the African country's government news agency quoted Zuma as saying.
Indian participants in the meeting welcomed the agreement between the five nations to forge a closer partnership for development integration and industrialisation to contribute to the development of the African continent.
"It was a very positive meeting because we could between the five countries develop a consensus of partnership and how BRICS countries can contribute towards the growth of Africa from the perspective of industrialisation, beneficiation and added value to Africa," Ambika Sharma, Deputy Secretary General and Head of International at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) told PTI.
Key recommendations of the Council included working collectively to carry forward the work agenda set by the G20 leaders for promoting stronger, sustainable and more equitable growth.
"We should look to continue enhancing intra-BRICS trade to achieve at least USD 500 billion by 2015 as per agreement from previous Business Forum in India," the Council said in a statement.
Sharma said FICCI members were taking development in Africa very seriously.
Although a number of Indian companies have already established footprints in Africa, Sharma said FICCI would now look at newer companies that wanted to expand abroad.
Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta said it was most significant that South Africa had also invited business leaders from other African countries to the meet.