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`India, S. Africa may sign preferential trading arrangement'

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Dec. 7

INDIA is likely to sign a preferential trading arrangement with the South Africa Customs Union soon in order to deepen the mutual trade and investment flows between the two sides.

The Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, indicated this here on Tuesday during discussions with the Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Mr Mandisi Mpahiwa.

Mr Nath also expressed the hope that the process of dialogue among the member countries of the India-Brazil-South Africa dialogue forum would facilitate enhanced level of cooperation and strengthen South-South cooperation.

Both the Ministers emphasised the potential for cooperation in various fields and noted that the two countries had been working together in the WTO on several issues including agriculture and Singapore issues. Mr Nath suggested that India and South Africa could have a coordinated approach in the non-agricultural market access negotiations also.

Mr Nath also took up with the South African Minister the issue of the time taken to register Indian pharmaceutical products for import into South Africa and suggested that a fast-track mechanism for Indian drugs already approved by the FDA of the US and the MCA of the UK could be considered by the South African authorities.

He also urged South Africa to evolve a mechanism for import of drugs from India for treatment of AIDS as many Indian companies were manufacturing generic versions of anti-retroviral drugs for the same.

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