AsiaBRICSIndiaSouthern Asia

India to Intensify Strategic Relationship with South Africa and Brazil

Cooperation in Agriculture Tops Agenda / FDI in Special Technologies could touch 100% from 49%

IBSA Meeting in Offing 

By TN Ashok    Diplomatic Editor

Ufa, July 10: India has decided to intensify its strategic relationship with South Africa and Brazil, both core members of the BRICS group of nations working towards common objectives of international issues. India and Brazil have both a lot of commonalities in their bilateral relationship as also the common stand they take in international and regional fora. India also indicated FDI in special technologies could touch 100% from 49%.

Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Navtej Sarna said that  the Brazilian President Ms Dilma Rousseff  said very clearly that both countries are part of so many international fora – G4, IBSA, BASIC, BRICS, G20 – so, obviously there are a lot of commonalities of positions which can be built upon.

Sarna said Prime Minister Modi was appreciative of Brazilian President’s gesture last year when he went to the BRICS summit where he was accorded all the ceremonial bilateral honour, a special gesture. Modi also appreciated Brazil had issued a commemorative stamp on the International Yoga Day, he said talking to newsmen on the side-lines of the 7th BRIC Summit here. .

The two leaders, Sarna pointed out , discussed various other issues. Cooperation in agriculture was one major issue. There are possibilities of working together in different aspects of agriculture whether it is food processing, whether it is genome research. And it was decided that the way to take this forward is a visit by the Agriculture Minister of Brazil to India.

Drawing attention to the fact that Prime Minister Modi met both leaders twice last year, first at the BRICS meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil, and then at the G20 summit in Brisbane in November, Secretary West said in a way these conversations were follow up to both those earlier meetings. Similarly they discussed the possibilities of cooperation in the defence industry. Evidence is seen in the fact that we managed to work together on equipment going into Brazilian jets, and this could be taken forward.

Prime Minister Modi informed the Brazilian side that though the FDI has been raised to 49 per cent, in cases of special technology and sophisticated technology it could even go up to 100 per cent. They discussed cooperation in oil and gas, and this is something in which the Brazilian side is keen that Indian companies go and explore opportunities of working in Brazil.

Prime Minister also requested the Brazilian President for assistance in expanding the list which is covered by the India-Mercosur Preferential Trade Agreement which could go up from the present 450 items to a record 2,000 items. As this will also significantly impact India-Brazil bilateral trade, Brazilian President responded positively to the suggestion and “we look forward to Brazil’s intervention with the other members of Mercosur to make this happen in the future.” Sarna said.

Brazil and India also discussed successful cooperation in space and  Remote sensing data is being shared.  It was decided this could be something  easily taken forward. The Brazilian President also requested for prominent Indian participation in the next conference on internet governance which is to take place in Brazil next year.

The Prime Minister has recently, as you would know, written a letter to leaders around the world on major issues for the UN in its 70th anniversary year: issues such as climate change, poverty eradication, sustainable development and so on. So, these were issues again which were discussed. The two leaders felt that each of these issues needed focused effort to move forward, Sarna said.

The Prime Minister made a point of telling the Brazilian President that we needed closer cooperation as we go towards COP21 in climate change. And the BASIC countries should together and have a clear strategy as they go into COP21 which would be taking care of the interests of the developing countries so that we simply do not have another expensive meeting which does not lead to any financial assistance or any technological assistance or transfer of technology for the purposes of promoting green energy.

Both leaders looked at working together at the next opportunity possibly in New York. The Brazilian President felt that cooperation between Brazil and India could be enhanced significantly if we continued intensive, high level engagement particularly at the Ministerial level. On the climate change issue she responded saying  it would be a good idea if a meeting on the sides was held during the UNGA of the BASIC countries and the strategy should be decided for the COP21.

In talks with South African delegation led by President Jacob Zuma,, Prime Minister Modi first invited him for the India-Africa Forum Summit in Delhi in October. The formal invitation has already been given by the External Affairs Minister and this was a personal invitation extended to President Zuma. “President Zuma said South Africa would attend as it provided a very useful opportunity to discuss Africa’s problems with India besides the multilateral meeting, another opportunity to have a bilateral meeting with the Indian Prime Minister.

As with the Brazilian President , PM Modi  discussed the letter that he has written on the  UN issue in detail. The most important subject discussed at length was the UN Security Council reforms.

President Zuma pointed out that Africa was not represented on the UN Security Council and said that reforms were essential, and we should find a way to break the logjam and move forward. Prime Minister spelt out India’s position. Prime Minister also responded by saying that it was not in order that a continent like Africa was not represented on the UN Security Council, Sarna said.

India too, which has one/sixth of the world’s population and is a leader in peacekeeping operations and other UN activities does not find entry into the UN Security Council. This is something that the two countries would continue to discuss as in fact they do every time they meet at the Ministerial or the Heads of State or Government level. This would be something continue to be discussed at the next opportunity in the UNGA and on the sidelines of the India-Africa Summit.

Prime Minister mentioned the importance of having a strategy for COP21 amongst the BASIC countries. South Africa, again like Brazil, is a part of BASIC. He also looked forward to further articulation of the South African position in support of India’s membership for the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This is something that in principle had been conveyed to Prime Minister personally by the South African Foreign Minister when she came to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January. And she had said that South Africa would support India on Nuclear Suppliers Group, and today we appreciated this position and requested for further articulation of this support, Sarna said.

On bilateral relations, particularly cooperation in defence, naval joint exercises, were discussed. The International Fleet Review coming up in 2016 was mentioned where South Africa would be present. And Prime Minister hoped that perhaps after that there could be joint exercises.

Once again there is interest from companies on both sides and this was recognized by the leaders of defence production and joint production given the raised FDI levels. That was discussed as well as the possibilities of further cooperation, particularly in the mining area. In deep mining South Africa has expertise. International Yoga Day came in for mention and the fact that the Day had succeeded in creating an awareness of holistic health around the world.

Sarna emphasised that at both the meetings Prime Minister Modi had with Brazilaiian and

South African Presidents there was personal chemistry. South Africa also spoke about the IBSA summit which needs to be discussed. which had to be kept in focus, though they were all meeting for the BRICs summit. . And our Prime Minister mentioned that the three Foreign Ministers when they met on the sidelines of the UNGA would discuss the possibilities and the details of the next IBSA summit.

Related posts