South Africa is pressing hard for not including textiles in a tariff reduction plan in the proposed preferential trade agreement (PTA), its trade minister Rob Davies said.
"We need to start with identifying with areas of complimentarity and there are many areas where we (India and South Africa) directly compete with each other," Davies told Hindustan Times.
"We have got our areas of sensitivities. Clothing and textile industry is one of our sensitive areas, the tariffs are fairly significant and we wouldn't like to include this in the PTA," said Davies.
The long-discussed PTA between India and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) was expected to be concluded towards the end of this year.
This agreement is proposed to cut tariffs on a limited number of products between the two regions, and is thereafter expected to eventually expand to a fully-fledged free trade agreement (FTA).
"It is a stepping stone towards FTA," Davies, who was in Delhi to attend the India-South Africa CEOs forum and hold bilateral trade discussions, said.
"The SACU route is absolutely central as the agreement requires us negotiate as a block. In that framework a PTA is more realistic. In any case, in South Africa more than 50% of our tariff lines are zero," he said.
Davies said the objective was to increase bilateral trade between the two countries to $15 billion from the current $10 billion by 2015. "Those figures will be very much in line with the existing trend lines," he said.
"We are looking to change the qualitative dimensions of trade bit. India is a significant investor in South Africa," Davies said.
"In South Africa, we have an industrial sector, which is pretty important to us. We want to deepen the level of industrialisation and manufacturing."