Bilateral Trade: West Africa comes calling now

The Indian Express, Mumbai, Monday, February 2, 2004

THEY claim to have the sweetest pineapples in the world, and cotton that is comparable with the finest Egyptian cotton. Now the Republic of Benin, a tiny country in West Africa, is busy trying to get the world’s attention.

A trade delegation, comprising senior Benin ministers and businessman, is in Mumbai to woo Indian businessmen to invest in their country.

“You can have 100 percent investment in any business you start in Benin and can take 100 percent profits back to your country,” said Luc-M C Gnacadia, Benin’s minister of Environment, Housing and Urbanism.

Gnacadia said that by being situated close to the land-locked countries of Nigeria and Ghana, Benin provides access to nearly 200 million consumers. The country itself has a population of just 6.7 million.

Besides giving access to the strife-torn West African countries, Benin can also be a gateway to countries in the European Union and the United States, by virtue of certain agreements it has with these countries.

The reality check

  • After numerous reports about Chinese goods bombarding India, here’s some news that comes as a pleasant surprise- India’s exports to China are actually higher than its imports.
  • The figure is right from the horse’s mouth. “In the first 11 months of 2003, China’s export to India was US $2958 million whereas imports were $3,700,” said Yuan Nanfheng, the Chinese Consul General in India.
  • He said that imports from India have risen by 84.5 percent since the same period last year, whereas export to India has increased only 27 percent.” We have a trade deficit of $742 million. He expected that the total trade between the two countries will be over $7 billion for year 2003,” Nanfheng said.
    Putting to rest security concerns of businessman, Gnacadia said,” We are a democratic country, with no riots or emergency. Our average GDP growth has been 5 percent annum since 1990, and was 6.7 percent last year.”

Gnacadia was speaking at a meeting organized by the International Business Linkage Forum. He and other senior ministers will be meeting more businessmen at a function on February 3.