India, South Africa to deepen strategic partnership

New Delhi: India and South Africa on Friday signed an agreement to further deepen their strategic partnership following delegation-level talks led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa here.

The Three-Year Strategic Programme of Cooperation is aimed at enhancing the Strategic Partnership Agreement that was signed in 1997 by Prime Minister H.D. Deva Gowda and South African President Nelson Mandela in 1997.

In a joint address to the media with Ramaphosa following the talks, Modi said that both sides reviewed the entire gamut of their bilateral ties.

“Our trade and investment ties are becoming more and more intense,” he said.

“Our bilateral trade is more than $10 billion.”

Modi said that Indian companies are contributing to President Ramphosa’s efforts to increase investments in South Africa.

Stating that India is a partner in South Africa’s efforts in skill development, he said that a Gandhi-Mandela Skills Institute will soon be opened in Pretoria.

“We are both committed to take our relationship to a new level,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that both India and South Africa are strategically located in the Indian Ocean region.

He said both countries are pluralistic democracies that are carrying forward the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

“As such, both countries share a similar broad global outlook,” Modi said.

“Our mutual cooperation and coordination in many forums like BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), G-20, Indian Ocean Rim Association and IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) are very strong.”

Modi also said that both countries are working together to bring about reforms in the UN Security Council.

On his part, Ramaphosa said that that India is a strategic partner for South Africa.

“PM Modi and I were in agreement that considerable scope exists for growing and expanding our bilateral ties, especially economic ties,” he said.

“India is now the second largest trading partner of South Africa.”

Ramaphosa said both sides want to expand cooperation in the areas of agro-processing, defence, mining and the financial sector, among others.

“We will work together to strengthen the multilateral system so that ordinary people of the world can benefit from globalisation,” he said.

Ramaphosa arrived here earlier in the day on his first state visit to India as President.

Soon after his arrival, he was accorded a ceremonial welcome by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

On Saturday, Ramaphosa will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade.