India-South Africa: Three Year Strategic Programme
31st Jan, 2019
- India and South Africa agreed on a three-year strategic partnership agreement to boost relations.
- The agreement, signed during the visit of President Cyril Ramaphosa, covers defence and security, blue economy cooperation and sustainable development.
- India and South Africa have strong partnership in platforms such as the BRICS, the G-20, the Indian Ocean Region Association and the IBSA Dialogue Forum.
- India also invited South Africa to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and congratulated it on securing the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for 2019-20.
- A joint statement acknowledged the growing interaction between the Navies of the two countries, and the Indian leader welcomed the South African participation in the India-Africa Field Training Exercise next March.
Revising strategic relations
- The Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, called the Red Fort Declaration, was signed in March 1997.
- Trade between India and South Africa is on the up-swing, and has crossed the 10 billion dollar mark in 2017-18. Two major business initiatives ‘India-South Africa Business Summit’ and ‘Invest in India Business Forum’ held in Johannesburg in 2018 have helped this along.
- All aspects the partnership would be reviewed and updated with a three-year plan of action on security cooperation, trade and investment, tourism, harnessing the ‘blue economy’, maritime cooperation, agriculture, science and technology projects.
- In order to enhance defence partnership, the two sides are also expected to explore new defence deals in the backdrop of the lifting of a 13-year old ban on South African defence firm Denel that was barred from doing business in India since 2005.
- An important collaboration between the two countries could be in the gems and jewellery sector. Both countries could explore avenues for direct procurement of diamond. It will ensure economies of scale, and also reduce the cost for both buyers and sellers.
- India could also partner with South Africa in start-ups, health care and pharma, bio-tech, IT and IT-enabled sectors
- Other areas of engagement can be simplification of the existing visa regime for businessmen and tourists, and direct connectivity for further easing business and people-to-people exchanges.