AFA DAILY READINGS- 31/01/2019


INDIA-SOUTH AFRICA BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

[MAINS- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS]



South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to India was significant. Its value lay in strengthening the people-to-people aspect of the bilateral partnership, and focusing on the implementation of previous agreements signed by the two governments.He saw India and South Africa as “two sister countries separated by an ocean, but bound by history.” Mr. Ramaphosa’s message was that in view of the rich past of this special relationship, the two nations should strive harder to keep it strong and vibrant.

 

Defence and Economic Co-operation:

  • There was a shared awareness that New Delhi and Pretoria had signed a large number of agreements, but it is now time to concentrate on implementation, since progress was slow. Finalisation of a strategic programme of cooperation aimed at implementation in a time-bound manner took place.
  • There is an indication of specific emphasis in the next three years would be on promoting defence and economic cooperation.
  • Defence cooperation extends to other areas too: maritime security, joint training exercises on sea and land, and provision of training facilities.

Bilateral Trade & Investments:

  • Despite promotion, bilateral trade and investment are yet to show robust and speedy expansion. A continuous process is under way to identify inhibiting factors.
  • Some of them relate to the small size of the South African economy and its slow rate of growth.
  • Lack of direct air connectivity and South Africa’s rigid business visa regime are seen as discouragements.
  • Mr. Ramaphosa agreed to reform the visa regime. He also identified a few sectors where India’s investment would be most welcome, such as agri-processed goods, mining equipment and technology, financial sectors and defence equipment.

Multilateral Groupings:

  • India-South Africa cooperation in multilateral groupings came up for a close review, especially the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) forum and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
  • New momentum is being imparted to IBSA, which has been ‘displaced’ by the larger grouping, BRICS, in recent years.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ramaphosa agreed on measures to further strengthen IORA. A specific decision was to enhance cooperation to harness the potential of the Blue Economy within the IORA framework.

New Agreements:

The two leaders also witnessed the exchange of two new agreements of cooperation.

  • These formally linked the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a policy research institute in Delhi, and two premier South African think tanks — the Institute for Global Dialogue and the South African Institute of International Affairs.
  • The three institutions have been entrusted with the task to conduct joint research and dialogue in 1.5 track format (i.e. involving officials and experts) on “areas to further promote practical cooperation with Africa.

In sum, the President’s visit was a notable plus in the Modi government’s record of deepening relations with Africa. As to the visitors, the Delhi sojourn should have sharpened their awareness of the desirability to pursue a more balanced Asia policy, factoring in the complex dynamics between India and China.

source: THE HINDU


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