New Delhi, Nov 22 : South Africa has welcomed the Indian government's decision to liberalise retail trade, saying it would allow more market access for its products.
"India, for instance, has been very protective till now of its market. Foreigners could sell wholesale here, but not retail. We must now take advantage of India opening up and sell directly to the market," South African High Commissioner Reverend Harris Majeke told IANS.
Rev. Majeke gave the example of South African wine, known for its quality but which could not be sold profitably in India because of high entry tariffs.
"India is selling everywhere in South Africa, even in remote interior areas. Why can't we do it here?" the envoy asked.
Rev. Majeke, who is ending his India tenure next month, was quite happy with South Africa's participation in the ongoing India International Trade Fair as well as sales registered by the 33 crafts micro-companies that are showing their wares at the fair.
"Our participation here (IITF) comes just at the right time when India is reforming its trade. We are ready to set up shop here (India)."
South Africa is the focus country at the expo.
Welcoming Indian economic reforms, he said, "Trade follows politics, that is, the latter has to first remove the stumbling blocks to trade."
South Africa and India have set a two-way trade target of $15 billion by 2014.
Majeke said the South African Customs Union (SACU) is one of the reasons for trade not moving faster.
According to him, for trading with India, South Africa needed to agree first with other SACU member countries through a time-consuming process of consultation, issue-by-issue.
Besides South Africa, SACU - the world's oldest customs union established in 1910 - is made up of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.
He also said India, which has invested a lot on skill development and on human resources, has much to offer in this regard to South Africa.
The envoy referred to using of Indian skills to improve South African production of value added goods.
In this connection, Rev. Majeke spoke of the huge opportunity provided by the BRICS group wherein member countries can exploit one another's competitive advantages.
"Why can't we, for instance, process South African raw materials within the BRICS countries? Why sell our gold and diamonds to England and Europe, and not push South African gold directly to India?" he asked
According to him, the BRICS grouping is a "huge giant" that has not yet been properly exploited.
The South African envoy signed off by saying that there could be a free trade in products between the BRICS member countries.
South Africa will chair BRICS in 2013.