Opportunities to increase and diversify Indian exports to South Africa, an export market which has grown four times in the last one and a half decades, will be discussed in detail by senior officials from the Indian Consulate in Johannesburg this week in an online interaction with Indian businesses wanting to explore fresh possibilities in the post-Covid scenario.
“Exports from India to South Africa, especially automobiles and pharmaceuticals, got a big push during the Pandemic. Similar opportunities exist for other items too. The Consul General of India to Johannesburg will interact with Indian companies this week on such opportunities at a virtual meet organised by exporters’ body FIEO,” a source told BusinessLine .
This is part of the Ministry of External Affairs’ initiative started last year to facilitate and promote Indian exports through its Missions and Posts in various countries.
Exports to South Africa
Indian exports to South Africa, which was at $984 million in 2004-05, touched $4 billion in 2019-20, although it dipped marginally to $3.93 billion in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of the fiscal. Imports, on the other hand, increased 8.6 per cent to $7.5 billion during the fiscal.
Despite the slight decline in Indian exports to South Africa in 2020-21, items such as motor vehicles posted a sharp 10.97 per cent growth to $557 million. India, in fact, was the top country of origin for vehicle imports into South Africa despite the lengthy Covid-19 lockdowns and overall declines in vehicle sales in 2020, according to the recent Automotive Export Manual report of the Automotive Industry Export Council. “Automobiles and parts exports to South Africa have a great potential for growth as Indian exporters could also use the country as a hub for export to other African countries,” the official said.
Pharmaceuticals is another area where there are opportunities for accelerated growth in the post-Covid period. India’s exports of pharmaceutical products to South Africa grew 33 per cent to $745 million in 2020-21 and with a focus on demand is likely to rise further, the official added.
Apart from pharmaceuticals and vehicles & components, exports from India to South Africa include transport equipment, engineering goods, footwear, dyes and intermediates, chemicals, textiles, rice and gems and jewellery.
“The key objective of the interactive session is to understand the present economic status of South Africa in view of Covid-19, discuss the commercial opportunities available in the prevailing economic environment and evaluate the future opportunities of various sectors,” according to FIEO.
With ties between India and South Africa intensifying not just economically but also strategically, as witnessed in the two countries’ recent collaboration at the WTO on intellectual property flexibilities for Covid-19 medical products, the atmosphere is conducive for more business, the source added.
India’s overall goods exports in 2020-21 declined 7.26 per cent to $ 290.63 billion but in the first quarter of the current fiscal the country recorded the highest-ever exports of $95 billion, posting a 85 per cent growth over the first quarter of the previous fiscal.