Shri Sharma also informed the Trade Ministers from Africa in India-Africa Ministers Round Table Meeting here that India has taken a decision to open dialogue with The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) members - the largest economic group in Africa. “We have established a Joint Study Group for examining the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement between India and COMESA,” conveyed Shri Sharma to the Ministers from different African countries. He further added that the Preferential Trade Agreement negotiations with the Southern African Customs Union countries are also underway.
Shri Sharma also encouraged some countries from Africa to avail the facilities of the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme, announced by India for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Scheme grants duty-free access on 85 per cent of tariff lines and preferential access on 9 per cent of tariff lines, covering 92.5 per cent of global exports of all LDCs. The average margin of preference under this Scheme is in the range of 50-60 per cent. “Of the 28 LDCs who have joined the Scheme, 21 countries are from Africa. We encourage other African LDCs to also avail of the Scheme,” said Shri Sharma.
Shri Sharma also discussed the developments made by India-Africa Business Council (IABC), which was constituted during the India Africa Trade Ministers’ Meet held at Addis Ababa in May 2011. Shri Sharma expressed hope that the new economic partnership will present India and the countries of the African continent with substantial opportunities to increase trade and investment activities, enhance market access for goods and services and develop greater competitiveness by leveraging their respective strength.
Shri Sharma also approved the expansion of the Technical Assistance Program on cotton for Africa being coordinated by Department of Commerce to cover Mini-Mission III (development of Market yards) and Mini Mission IV (development of cotton ginning and pressing factories) to be implemented by Ministry of Textiles.
The African Ministers are here as part of the biggest ever 9th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership, with the participation of seven heads of state & heads of government, and over 80 senior ministers and parliamentarians from 45 African states and delegation of more than 900 delegates.
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