India-SA should extend trade ties to services sector:Patil

Pretoria: India and South Africa should extend their trade partnership to the services sector as it is becoming a "fundamental building block" of their economic engagement, President Pratibha Patil has said.

"Our two countries have strived hard to further broaden and deepen our bilateral trade and economic engagement. Bilateral Trade between India and South Africa has already crossed the USD 11 billion mark in 2010-11," Patil said at a banquet hosted by her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma last night.

She said it was her view that the bilateral trade partnership should be extended to to the services sector as it was becoming a "fundamental building block of our economic engagement."

Patil, who is here on a week-long visit, said she was happy to note that the Joint CEOs Forum is working to explore the vast opportunities that exist and harness new ones. "Our linkages with South Africa are multi-sectoral, multi-dimensional and embrace sectors vital to the lives of all our peoples such as health and food security, infrastructure, energy, generic medicines and industrial development," she said.

Patil said that it was immense pleasure to learn that Indian companies are working closely with the South African government to provide high quality and cost effective pharmaceuticals in vital areas, including for combating HIV and AIDS.