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India seeks cooperation from African countries at the WTO: Rajeev Kher
India seeks the cooperation of African Countries at the WTO on the issue of Food Security and Trade Facilitation when the body re-convenes next month in Geneva.

This was stated by Rajeev Kher, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry at an Interactive Session with the Heads of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) from Africa organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi.

The Commerce Secretary pointed out that India's stand at the WTO deliberations on the Trade Facilitation Agreement was endorsed by the G-33 and endorsed by 46 countries including several countries from Africa. India, therefore, was not the sole country in the fray.

The Commerce Secretary observed that that there were 21 countries in the world who use public stockholding for food security purposes and many more countries are expected to resort to the same in the future. Most of these countries could possibly violate the de minimis levels that were agreed upon.

Highlighting the growth of the India-Africa trade relationship, the Commerce Secretary stated that trade had grown ten-fold over the past ten years. Africa is one of India's most important trading partners. He felt that there was a significant amount of complementarity between India and Africa and the two countries should work together to develop regional value chains.

In order to expand trade with Africa, Kher also pointed out that India had recently amended its Duty Free Tariff Preference (DFTP) scheme to cover around 98% of the tariff lines. The Government was in the process of disseminating this information. In addition, the government was also considering expanding and augmenting the Lines of Credit (LoCs) extended to Africa.

Representatives from various Regional Economic Communities in Africa addressed the Session. The speakers included Dr. Richard Sezibera, Secretary General, East African Community (EAC), Amb (Eng) Mahboub M. Maalim, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ibrahim Sani Abani, Acting Secretary General, Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD), Dr. Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant Secretary General (Programme), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Margaret Nyirenda, Director (Food) Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Sidjime Saleh, Director, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

The speakers invited Indian industry to invest in their respective regions. Some of the areas that the speakers highlighted where Indian investment could play a major role included tourism, IT, Agriculture and Food security, Education, water conservation among others.

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