Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says South Africa will use the up-and-coming State visits involving India and France to boost trade and investment, in a bid to boost exports to those markets.

The Minister also said that Invest South Africa, a one-stop-shop set up to address investor bottlenecks and attract investment, will sign an agreement with the French business sector when President Jacob Zuma leads a high-level business delegation to France next week.

Davies was briefing journalists here Monday on the official visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to South Africa from July 8, 2016, as well as President Zuma's State visit to France from July 11 to 13.

"As far as we are concerned, India is our very strategic trade and investment partner. At the moment, India is our sixth largest trade partner, so it is in fact higher than a number of other traditional trade partners. So from our point of view, we want to boost exports, more especially our value added exports," Davies said.

He added that India was now South Africa's sixth largest trade partner. Trade between the two countries amounted to 95 billion Rand (about 6.25 billion US dollars) in 2015. Trade with India represented 4.9 per cent of South Africa's imports and 4.1 per cent of its exports.

According to trade statistics, India's exports to South Africa increased from 29 billion Rand in 2011 to 54 billion Rand in 2015, while exports to India increased from 24 billion Rand to 41 billion Rand during the same period.

While the trade surplus is in favour of India, efforts are underway to promote South African exports, especially value added products, to India.

Since 1994, India's has invested in several sectors in South Africa, including the mining industry, financial services, pharmaceutical sector and manufacturing.

A total of 82 Indian investment projects in South Africa were recorded from 60 companies with a total capital expenditure of 62 billion Rand between January 2003 and January 2016. India's investments in South Africa had created 10,660 jobs.

Davies said President Zuma will also use the State visit to France to attract investment in several targeted sectors. France is South Africa's fourth biggest trading partner in the European Union (EU) after Germany, Britain and Italy.

South Africa's imports from France increased to 24.5 billion Rand in 2015 from 23.9 billion Rand in 2014. The country has a deficit trade balance with France at 15.3 billion Rand in 2015.

South Africa's total exports to France contracted by 3.7 per cent from 9.5 billion Rand in 2014 to 9.1 billion Rand in 2015.

"One of the key outcomes for the state visit will be the signing of a Declaration of Intent between Invest SA with Business France as well as an agreement by the Industrial Development Corporation with its counterparts on cooperation on industrial development," Davies said.

"There is potential to increase South Africa's exports of agriculture and agro-processed products into the French market, including some manufactured products such as Diesel powered trucks, wheeled tractors, lead-acid accumulators, vacuum cleaners and pneumatic tyres," he said.

Source: Nam News Network