India ramps up ties, trade with west African countries

Accra, Sep 1 (IANS) With the India-Africa summit scheduled to take place in New Delhi in less than two months, there is good news from west Africa. India’s trade with Francophone countries in western Africa, like Guinea and Liberia, which were hit by the ebola virus, has not been largely affected and in some cases actually rose in spite of the temporary isolation of some of these countries.

Figures released by the Indian embassy in Cote d’Ivoire (formerly Ivory Coast), another west African nation, which has responsibilities for these countries, said: “The overall bilateral trade between India and Guinea has been on the rise, though there is no clear trend visible. In the 2014-15 financial year, it crossed $1 billion mark,” the embassy said.

Bilateral trade between the two countries was $397.82 million in fiscal 2013-14, 45.79 percent down over the previous year. Trade, however, shot up by 154.76 percent to $1,013.50 million in fiscal 2014-15.

The embassy said major Indian exports include cereals (rice), drugs, pharmaceuticals, textiles, transport equipment, iron and steel, paints, chemicals and construction equipment. Major Indian imports including pearls, stones, jewellery, mineral fuels, bitumen, cashew, scrap metal and aluminum.

It said Guinea has been allotted 30 slots under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme in fiscal 2015-16, adding that six undergraduate and post-graduate fully paid scholarships had also been provided through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Though overall trade with Liberia has seen a substantial rise in the last five years, it remained almost stagnant in 2014-15. The bilateral trade was $280.54 million during 2013-14 but slumped to $264.21 million in 2014-15.

India’s exports to Liberia include foodstuff, particularly cereals (rice), engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, two-wheelers, transport equipment, steel, iron and plastic and rubber products. Liberia’s exports to India include wood, wood articles, metal scrap and natural rubber.

The embassy said India has been contributing towards the human resource development, capacity-building and skills upgradation of Liberians. Thirty training slots had been provided to Liberia under the ITEC programme.

“Additionally, ICCR has granted six fully-paid scholarships in 2015-16 for post-graduate studies. Liberians have also been benefiting from other capacity-building training in India under the decisions of IAFS (India Africa forum Summit) as well as under the US-Liberia-India trilateral cooperation programme,” the embassy said.

For Cote d’Ivoire, the embassy said, India has been providing significant number of training slots under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme providing AA80 in the current year 2015-2016.

It said the ICCR has also given 11 fully-paid scholarships to Ivorian youth to pursue undergraduate and post-graduate studies in India. “Apart from this, several Ivorian students have also undergone training courses under the IAFS mechanism. India is fast becoming an important learning centre for Ivorian students, particularly for ICT studies besides Commerce and Management degrees,” it said, adding that, over 500 Ivorian students went to India for studies on self-financing basis in the last three years.

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