South Africa wants to change its India trade basket

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 21, 2012 10:50 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) South Africa would like to change the composition of its India trade basket, 85 percent of which is currently made up of raw materials, and manufacture more value−added products for export.

"South African exports to India are dominated by basic commodities and raw materials. We would like to turn that around," Stefanus Botes, economic counsellor at the South Africa High Commission here told IANS.

"Basically, like you, we would like to manufacture more and export... not only things like gold, diamonds and other minerals, which are then polished, refined and sold back to South Africa. We would like to concentrate more on exporting items with value addition," Botes said.

South Africa is the focus country at this year's India International Trade Fair. The change in its thinking in this direction is reflected in its pavilion at the trade fair.

Thirty−three micro businesses have set up stalls under the aegis of the South African Handmade Collection (SAHC), a craft brand that promotes South African handmade products nationally and internationally.

Most of these have recorded unexpectedly high volumes of sales within the first week of IITF 2012, beginning right from the opening of the South African pavilion by its Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe.

"The South African companies exhibiting here got more than what they had bargained for, with their products flying off the shelves," said Botes.

Bags made from recycled plastic, exquisite handicrafts, jewellery and lamps are getting a great response from Indian visitors "owing to their love for handicrafts", according to South African crafter Jabulani Mhlabini.

Mhlabini, who had also participated in IITF 2008 and made a profit of Rs.80,000, was confident that he would "cross the lakh−mark this time".

South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry has a scheme aimed at developing export markets for South African products and services, and recruiting new foreign direct investment into the country.

"We are assisting these craft micro−firms to sell well here in India and make money so they can grow as businesses," said Qondani M. Rwigema, director in South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry, and part of the official delegation to IITF 2012.

"Our department is supporting small and emerging companies to find markets and also aims at promoting emerging craft enterprises, especially those residing in rural areas of South Africa," Rwigema told IANS.

"India has a vibrant handicraft tradition and our aim for the crafters is to find long−term sustainable markets. South Africa is again coming back next year to IITF with these kind of companies," Rwigema added.

More from Sify: