India is open to negotiations with Africa as a whole or with individual countries in the continent for free trade agreements, commerce & industry minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.

“India would act as a trusted partner to expand trade, commerce, business, investment and opportunities between two countries,” the minister said in his interaction with ambassadors of 15 countries of Africa.

India already has operational trade agreements with 19 African countries but they do not grant any preferential treatment to goods and services trade vis-a-vis other countries.

India’s exports to Africa stood at $38.7 billion in 2022-23, growing at 27% as compared to the previous year. Imports from Africa were down 10.4% in the previous financial year to $29.2 billion.

The minister emphasised government’s commitment towards making Africa a top priority and deepening India’s engagement with the countries of the continent “on a sustained and regular way”.

Goyal said the African continent offers vast opportunities to Indian businesses with its rapidly growing population, emerging middle class and abundant natural resources.

“Through increased trade and investment both India and Africa can benefit from each other’s strengths and expertise, fostering inclusive growth and job creation,” he added.

Ambassadors from Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Republic of Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Morocco, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe attended the meeting, a statement by the ministry of commerce said.

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