Gujarat delegation sees business opportunities in S Africa

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A business delegation from Gujarat said there are opportunities for India and South Africa in the small scale sector and was buoyant about increasing bilateral cooperation.

A Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI) business delegation on Thursday ended a week-long visit to three major South African cities - Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Supported by the Indian Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Industries, the 16-member delegation from the pharmaceutical, chemical, electrical, power, energy, and engineering sectors met with business leaders in the three cities.

"There are great opportunities for India and South Africa, especially in the small business sector which generates a lot of employment," said Janak Seth, FGI Vice-President and leader of the delegation.

"We have seen a dearth of employment in South Africa, and this would be a good opportunity for South Africa to adopt and apply the models used by Gujarat in the city, town and village levels," Seth said.

"We had a three-fold approach with this visit - to export products from India to extend the $ 14 billion trade with South Africa to $ 25 billion in two years' time; secondly to import products from South Africa; and thirdly joint ventures to partner either in manufacturing partly in India and partly in South Africa or using Indian technology for South African partners to manufacture locally."

Seth, who is also the MD of Century Pharmaceuticals in Vadodara, said the pharma sector in particular presented a lot of opportunities because South Africa is concentrating more on local production using imported ingredients rather than importing finished products.

Danke Electricals of Waghodia, a manufacturer of diversified transformer and switchgear products, had enough success with the visit to seriously consider setting up manufacturing operations in South Africa.

In an innovative clinical trial, the Central Marine Research Institute in Cape Town is trying out pharmaceutical ingredients from an Indian company on fish, the first time something like this was being done.

Seth explained that the ingredient had to be adapted to make it suitable to be tested on fish given that they lived in water, so it had to be made insoluble and also colourful enough to attract fish to eat it.

"This three-month trial is a first for an Indian company and has already attracted attention from Turkey, which has also expressed an interest in running trials there," Seth said.

The delegation also extended an invitation to South African business to visit the bi-ennial Vibrant Gujarat Expo to be held in the state in January 2015 as well as the Ipex pharmaceutical exhibition in April this year.

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