Poor infra, financing hampering India-Africa trade: Report

Geneva, July 9 (IANS) Poor infrastructure facilities and lack of financing are getting in the way of expanded business and investment ties between India and Africa, said a report Tuesday.

A study, jointly by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) supported by Britain's Department for International Development, found a number of constraints to bilateral trade. Access to Indian buyers and trade finance emerges as major concerns for African traders.

Transport and logistics costs and poor business environments are cited as major difficulties by Indian traders - a factor also cited as holding back further investment, said the report, "India-Africa: South-South Trade and Investment for Development", which was released on the sidelines of 4th WTO Global Review of Aid for Trade event here.

CII surveyed some 60 key Indian and African companies and business associations for the study.

The report found that further expanding India's investment-led trade approach and addressing trade irritants on both sides could help sustain this dynamic trade growth, and help extend it both in terms of the number of partners involved and in the range of goods and services traded.

India-Africa bilateral trade has grown from $1 billion in 2001 to around $50 billion in 2011-12. India's investments in Africa are estimated to be currently over $50 billion.

At a panel discussion held after the release of the report, senior international diplomats and private sector members from Africa said India can play a big role in building the infrastructure in African countries, though India has its own infrastructure deficiencies.

Sunil Kant Munjal, former CII president, emphasised that Africa was not a single market and India needed to adopt an individual, country-specific strategy to promote bilateral trade and investment.

The CII-WTO report has come out with a series of recommendations on how development assistance and investments in tandem could help smoothen out potential bottleneck for a more sustainable investment-led trade relationship between India and Africa.

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