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Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles, is heading the Indian delegation to the Centenary celebrations of the African National Congress (ANC) in the South African city of Mangaung (Bloemfontein) called on Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and President of the ANC.

Shri Sharma handed over messages of felicitations on the occasion from the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and President of the Indian National Congress (INC), Smt. Sonia Gandhi. President Zuma thanked Minister Sharma for the messages and stated that the ANC and the Indian National Congress shared historic and fraternal links forged over many years of struggle for freedom and justice. Minister Sharma stressed the continuing importance India attaches to the bilateral relationship between India and South Africa, and noted that the close party to party relations between the ANC and INC were a special facet of the overall bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Shri Sharma also held a bilateral meeting with his South African counterpart, Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Rob Davies, in Bloemfontein today. Both Ministers reviewed bilateral commercial and economic relations and expressed satisfaction at the continued growth in bilateral investment flows and trade. The Ministers welcomed the fact that bilateral trade had already crossed the target set in 2010 of US$ 10 billion by the year 2012 during the last financial year itself. The two Ministers reiterated the need to maintain this momentum and agreed to continue visits by bilateral commercial delegations and to take other necessary measures to facilitate trade and investment. In this context, efforts to reach an early conclusion of the India-SACU Preferential Trade Agreement and the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) are to be pursued with greater vigour.

Shri Anand Sharma is being accompanied by Smt. Rajni Patil, senior Congress leader and former Chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board as well as officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry during his visit to South Africa.

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