Here’s a new dawn in defense

  • March 14, 2017

For me personally, this visit is an opportunity to pay homage to two of the greatest human souls to have ever walked this Earth – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said during his visit to South Africa in July 2016.He further added, “Beyond economic ties, and links of business, trade and investment, we can also partner in the field of defence and security. Both, at the level of industry and for our strategic and security needs,” Mr. Modi also stated that the relationship between the two nations was at par. He said defence sector in India is one of the sectors that has been witnessing a complete transformation and offers exciting opportunities. “Our companies can also pool their capacities to jointly develop or manufacture defence equipments and platforms. And, not just to meet our defence needs, but also to respond to regional and global demand,” he mentioned. About opportunities in the defence sector, Modi said both countries can join hands in not only meeting needs of each other but also to respond to regional and global demand. He simply added, “We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism. It was in South Africa that Gandhi found his true calling. He belongs as much to India as to South Africa.”

Scope for strengthened ties

As per the reports of one of the leading journals of India, Narendra Modi while portraying India as an attractive destination for defence production, sought deeper collaboration in the sector with South Africa, a major arms exporter, even as he thanked it for supporting India’s bid for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group at the time of his visit to Africa. During his four-nation African tour, Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with South African President Jacob Zuma during which both sides decided to ramp up their traditional ties by boosting trade and investment ties, especially in manufacturing, mining, renewable energy and pharmaceutical sectors. The two countries also agreed to reinforce defence and security cooperation and vowed to cooperate “actively” in dealing with terrorism; besides working closely at multilateral aspect. Pitching to take the already close bilateral ties to new heights, both Modi and Zuma paid glowing tribute to “two liberation icons” – Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Modi’s visit to Africa came less than a year after India hosted the heads of state and government of all 54 African nations in New Delhi at the third India-Africa Summit in October. The trip also came after visits by President Pranab Mukherjee to Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia a month prior and of Vice-President Hamid Ansari to Morocco and Tunisia in May-June last year. Together, the visits aimed to bolster and sustain ties between India and energy-resource rich Africa given that the next India-Africa Summit will be held in 2020.

FDI relaxation- a welcome step

President Zuma in a statement “welcomed the relaxation of foreign direct investment rules through the lifting of the caps on foreign direct investment in nine sectors of the Indian economy including defence, food retail, local airlines, private security firms and pharmaceutical sectors, indicating that the announcement will have a major impact of attracting foreign investment in these areas, including from South Africa. Adding to all this, South African President Zuma said both the leaders also held discussion on a range of bilateral and international issues including reform of the United Nation Security Council. During the talks, Narendra Modi said the “full spectrum” of engagement between the two countries was reviewed and called for robust industry-to-industry ties for greater economic engagement. He said the annual trade between the two countries has grown by over 300% in last ten years and that about one fourth of India’s investments in Africa are in South Africa. India is South Africa’s sixth-largest trading partner, with annual trade recording at USD 5.3 billion in 2015-16.

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