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India-Africa trade touches $ 62.66 billion for 2017-18, increases 22%

Huma Siddiqui

India s partnership with Africa based on a consultative model of cooperation, non-prescriptive, participative, and responsive to the needs of the African countries, witnessed an increase in bilateral trade of nearly 22% from the last year. Ranking as the third largest export destination in Africa, India-Africa trade has touched $ 62.66 billion for 2017-18.

Sources told Financial Express Online that, The Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) Scheme announced by the government for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) has immensely benefited African nations and contributed towards steady increase in the trade figures by extending duty-free access to 98.2 % of India s total tariff lines. So far, 38 African countries enjoy the benefits of the DFTP Scheme.

Among the key imports from Africa to India, petroleum products dominated India s import basket during 2016-17, with a significant share of 52 per cent of India s total imports from Africa.

Recently, 47 African leaders have recently signed a framework establi Duty Free Tariff Preference shing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the WTO. So far 27 countries of the region have signed the agreement on free movement of people. The pact is expected to boost intra-African trade by 53.3 per cent by the elimination of import duties and non-tariff barriers providing opportunities for expansion of trade ties. India views this development as yet another opportunity to boost trade and economic ties with Africa.

According to sources, project exports are an important area and Lines of Credit (LOC) as well as concessional loans under Buyers Credit Scheme forms an important component. Our projects have made a great difference to the quality of life in these countries.

India s development cooperation ranges from power projects and dams in Sudan and Rwanda to water treatment in Tanzania, sugar factories in Ethiopia and IT Parks in Mozambique and Swaziland. New Delhi has also built Presidential Palace in Ghana and National Assembly building in the Gambia, besides other numerous projects ranging from drinking water schemes to irrigation, solar electrification, power plants, transmission lines, cement plants, technology parks, railway infrastructure and many others in the continent.

Food security is also a common concern for India and Africa. India being the biggest producer of food grain and horticulture crop has helped the African continent develop its agriculture sector. Diplomats from both sides have sought greater cooperation in agriculture and agro-processing, which would have a great bearing on the food security situation in Africa and India.

As one diplomat had once said, India s cooperation was crucially important to ensure food security in the African region. A large number of people in East African countries such as Kenya work in the cultivation of tea, coffee, corn, vegetables, sugarcane, wheat and fruits, among other things.

As reported by The Financial Express Online earlier, both India and Mozambique have decided to ramp up economic engagement, particularly in the energy sector, as the African country has a large source of coal and natural gas to drive the growth of Indian economy.

To meet its energy security, India sources nearly 18% of its crude oil and also LNG requirement mostly from the West African region. We import crude oil from Nigeria, Angola, Chad and Sudan/South Sudan and LNG from Nigeria. While oil exploration in Sudan/South Sudan, Gabon, and Libya is going on, LNG and Coal mining in Mozambique etc. South Africa and Ghana supply more than a quarter of country s total coal requirements, highly placed sources confirmed to Financial Express Online.

Sources also added that diamonds, gemstones, gold, copper and other minerals are also sourced from Africa. Sizeable quantities of Phosphates are imported from Tunisia and Morocco.

Almost 90% of raw cashews are sourced from Africa, besides other agricultural commodities sourced including pulses, spices, fruit and nuts, and most recent addition is mangoes from Malawi.

Sources told Financial Express Online that Africa is a top priority for India s foreign and economic policy and there has been a qualitative shift in country s longstanding ties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently articulated Africa policy in 10 broad principles emphasizing that India s partnership with Africa will be driven by the aim of empowerment, access to Indian market, sharing of experience in the agriculture sector and support for Indian investments in Africa.

In order to have a more meaningful diplomatic presence, India has decided to open 18 new Missions in Africa taking the total number to 47.