To enhance business cooperation between India and South Africa, there is a need for initiatives that focus on small and large scale enterprises, said MM Murugappan, Vice-Chairman, Murugappa Group.

Speaking at an interactive session with officials of the South African High Commission organised by the South India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Murugappan, Honorary Consul of South Africa in Chennai, said there are more opportunities for Indians to do business with South Africa and vice versa, be it small or big. “We are not short of interests from both the countries for doing business,” he said. For instance he came across a $100,000 worth Indian venture that exports citrus fruits like oranges to South Africa. “All I did was put them in touch with right authorities,” Murugappan said. “There is appetite for business. The need of the hour is new initiatives and business programmes that will enhance cooperation,” he added.

Total trade between India and South Africa grew from $3.18 billion in 2004-05 to $7.73 billion in 2009-10 and $11.8 billion in 2014-15. India is a major importer of coal, minerals and metals like diamond, gold and platinum from South Africa. Manufactured goods like automobile parts, pharmaceuticals and electronic goods comprises major import items of South Africa from India.

Ben Jourbet, Deputy High Commissioner of South Africa to India, said this model of business, which is focussed on minerals and manufactured goods, is not sustainable. There is a need to diversify into different sectors, he added.

Recado Andrews, Minister Counsellor (Economic), South African High Commission in New Delhi, said, “Agri processing is an important focus area for us and has a huge potential.” Other areas are pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronic goods and mining, he added.