External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday called for greater cooperation between India and Africa, saying the potential for bilateral trade between the two was more than what is reflected by existing trade levels.
"I call upon Indian and African business partners to step up their business engagements, Existing trade and investment levels do not reflect the true potential. Our commitment to Africa is total and we look forward to a close partnership with Africa in its economic resurgence," Pranab Mukherjee said at the inaugural session of the India-Africa Business summit.
He also announced India will be doubling its line of credit to Africa to $5.4 billion for the five-year period beginning 2008-09 and provide $500 million over the next five to six years for projects in critical areas.
Bilateral trade between the regions has increased from $5 billion in 2001-02 to $30 billion in 2007-08, but it was still less than 8 per cent of India's global trade volume, Mukherjee said.
The minister said India is exploring the possibility of comprehensive economic cooperation agreements with the Common Market of Southern Africa and East African Community.
India has trade agreements with 30 countries in Africa.
Mukherjee admitted that India will not be able to escape the global financial slowdown but added that its economic fundamentals being strong, the country's growth was an opportunity for mutual gains with "our African associates".
"India is one of the world's safest markets. We are confident that a 7 per cent growth is not beyond us this year and that it shall not be long before we fully regain our growth momentum," he said.