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India has comparative edge over China in Africa: Tanzanian minister

twitter-logoPTI | October 16, 2018 | Updated 20:42 IST

New Delhi, Oct 16 (PTI) India has a "comparative advantage" over China in building connectivity projects and trade corridors in Africa due to its compatibility and proximity to the continent, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga said Tuesday. Delivering a lecture at a prominent think tank, the minister, however, added that "there is room for everyone" in Africa. Earlier in the day, he held wide-ranging talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj focussing on stepping up cooperation in trade and investment, defence and security and oil gas sectors among others. In his address, Mahiga said usage of the term 'Indo-Pacific' is a recognition of India's pivotal role in establishing trading regimes and rules-based maritime freedom of navigation, and noted that Africa "counts" on India to play a very important part strategically and politically for the same. Responding to a question on connectivity projects by China in Africa, Mahiga said the Chinese model of investment is about not just creating infrastructure for the countries in the continent, but also for investors from its country. "The Chinese are subsidising the construction of these infrastructure requirements to enable the Chinese investors to come," Mahiga said in response to a question after his lecture here on the 'India-Africa Relations--The Tanzania Perspective'. He said the Chinese were "outdating" certain "sunset" industries and moving towards high gear industrialisation to make machines which manufacture machines. "They are phasing out, whether it is textile or household goods, and they are looking for opportunities where this can be off-loaded to developing countries," he said. Referring to Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting that took place last month, he said Beijing invited 53 countries and each country had a project. He said there were USD 60 billion to be invested in these countries. Amid increasing Chinese influence over the mineral and hydro-carbon rich Africa, India too has intensified its efforts to strengthen ties with the continent. India has extended Line of Credit worth millions of dollars in varied areas to the African countries. "But I think the traditional countries like India have a comparative advantage in developing the trade connectivity with Africa because of the historical connections that exist and because of the geo-political reality that exists. India is very close to Africa. The other countries are very far from us. "Let's use those comparative advantages. When I say this complementarities and compatibilities, it was also to mean the economic opportunities that need to be exploited," he said. On the comparative advantages, he said, a Chinese investor is "relatively new" to the African market, compared to an Indian investor as India is culturally closer to Africans. "And I think, that is where the compatibility and comparative advantage India has over the Chinese. There is a room for everyone in Africa. In fact, so much room, you just have to be creative," he added. He also called the Indian diaspora in his country a "mentor" to indigenous private sector. Mahiga said India is a "pivot" in the Indo-Pacific region and it has "played a critical role in creating a conducive maritime regime" for a rules-based freedom of navigation. "We in Africa count on India to play a very important part strategically, but also politically. This is what is assigned to you or is being assigned to you.... So even the Americans, Japanese, and even the Chinese are recognising this the pivotal role of India in the strategic set up of maritime navigation and freedom of (navigation)," he said. Following the talks between Mahiga and Swaraj, India and Tanzania also inked two MoUs. These pacts were between India's Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and Tanzania's Centre for Foreign Relations and National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) and Tanzania Industrial Research & Development Corporation, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted. PTI PR RT

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