The three-way cooperation among India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) stands for "new trade geography" to use one another as gateways to push intercontinental trade and investment, said Commerce Minister Kamal Nath.
"While India can provide an excellent staging post for South Asia and Southeast Asia, Brazil can act as the hub for Latin America as a whole and South Africa can do likewise for sub-Saharan Africa," he told the first IBSA meeting in Brasilia.
Citing figures on the prospects of trade among the three countries, Kamal Nath said intra-IBSA trade was only $ 7.7 billion in 2005, representing less than 1.5 per cent of the total trade of the three countries.
"The IBSA countries can reinforce each others' economic strength by creating a market of more than 1.2 billion people, a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $ 1.8 trillion and trade of more than $ 600 billion," he said.
"None of the IBSA countries now feature as one of the 10 most important trading partner of the other two countries," he told the meeting organised by the three apex chambers of India, and Brazil's National Confederation of Industries.
Kamal Nath also underlined the specific areas for each of the three countries in terms of joint ventures, investment flows and technical cooperation.
The areas outlined for India included pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, wind energy, IT, tourism, entertainment and animation industries, and manufacture of jewellery using precious and semi-precious stones and gold.
The areas for Brazil included tourism, agriculture, food processing, packaging, nuclear energy, bio fuels and renewable energy, including hydro and ethanol.
"Sixty-two per cent Brazil's energy requirement is met from renewable sources—of which 10 per cent is from ethanol. India has the largest area under sugarcane, though its ethanol cost is very high," he said.
For South Africa, he listed the areas as synthetic fuel, coal gasification technology, nuclear energy, mining technology and machinery.