Pretoria — Visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and President Jacob Zuma are due to address a South Africa-India business forum later today.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the forum will mark an essential tool in growing the South African economy as well as increase bilateral trade and investment between South Africa and the Asian country.
In a statement, Davies said the forum will provide an opportunity for the two countries' business communities to forge relationships and form business linkages with key players and decision-makers in various sectors.
Patil's official state visit began on Wednesday with a meeting with President Zuma. At a joint media briefing at the Union Buildings, she said: "We felt that considerable opportunities need to be explored."
President Zuma said that during their talks, the two had reflected on how they could further translate their historical ties into meaningful socio-economic development cooperation. "Progress is being made in that regard," he said.
The two countries have set a bilateral trade target of R111 billion to be reached by 2014.
In his State Visit to India in 2010, Zuma had challenged South African and Indian businesses to raise bilateral trade to $10 billion (R76.2 billion) by 2012.
Davies said this figure was attainable.
Bilateral Trade between the two countries in 2011, stood at R53.7 billion, with South Africa exporting goods to the value of R24.4 billion to India and importing goods from India to the value of R29.3 billion.
During Zuma's maiden visit to India, several pacts were signed while the South Africa - India Chief Executives' Forum was re-launched. The forum with business leaders from both countries as members is co-chaired by Patrice Motsepe, chairman of African Rainbow Minerals and India's Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.
The forum is a platform for business community interaction between SA and India.