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Address by Vice President at the Inauguration of Global Expo at Gaborone, Botswana (31 October 2018)

October 31, 2018

His Excelency, the Vice President of Botswana, Hon. Slumber Tsogwane
Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana,
Bogolo J Kenewendo and members of my delegation.

I am happy and privileged to be amongst this august gathering for the inauguration of the Global Expo Botswana 2018. I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity.

Botswana and India enjoy a longstanding and enduring partnership because we share the common values of democracy and strong people-to-people ties.

I am delighted to be at this opportune moment and a unique platform that brings together business leaders from different countries. I consider this yet another milestone in India-Botswana business relations.I appreciate Botswana’s political and economic stability and its fastest growing economy status in the Southern African region.

India commends Botswana’s significant role in integrating its regional partners and promoting inclusive growth for Africa.

I wish Botswana and its people all the very best in their endeavour to achieve the desired goals.I come from a country that has, from time immemorial, believed that the entire world is one large family.It is a country that has espoused peaceful co-existence among nations. It is a country that believes that all the countries should work together to improve human lives.

The Global Expo is a forum that, in my view, deepens this feeling of commonality and sense of purpose, of the feeling that partnership can lead to greater prosperity, and of the feeling that we can move faster to create a world we want if we learn from each other.

I congratulate Government of Botswana for conceptualizing and organising this special business-to-business Expo every year in the month of October since 2006.

I appreciate the enthusiastic participation of the local companies and various regional sectors showcasing their products and services and using this forum to explore business opportunities.I understand that 25 Indian companies are taking part this year. I am happy to note that this is the largest participation in the Expo from a single country.

I am sure the Expo will further promote Botswana goods export; strengthen intra and regional trade, attract FDI, expansion of domestic investment and create joint-venture opportunities between Botswana and investors. I am hopeful that it will also stimulate a culture of entrepreneurship.

In this regard, I am aware of the significant role played by Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) in organising this multi-sectoral Expo. I appreciate their tireless efforts in promoting business and organising such successful events.

Friends,

India's engagement with Africa over the last four years has been unprecedented. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set out 10 guiding principles to take our relationship with Africa to even greater heights.

You may be aware that in the India-Africa Forum Summit III in 2015, India pledged an overall lines of credit of US $ 10 Billion for Africa, in addition to US $ 600 million as grant and 50,000 scholarships. We are well on our way to fulfilling these pledges.

Let me assure that our development partnership assistance is on terms which are comfortable for you and as Prime Minister Modi said, "It will liberate your potential and not constrain your future." He had also reiterated that we will keep our markets open and support our industry to invest in Africa. We will also bring our digital revolution to support Africa's development as well as work with you, as per ‘ your ’ priorities, on a range of areas.India's relation with Botswana has remained close and warm. Our engagement has enhanced over the years including in the areas of defence and security, trade and business, healthcare and capacity building.

Dear Friends, It is indeed a matter of great satisfaction that India-Botswana business ties have been growing steadily over the years. Our bilateral trade is valued at USD 1.75 billion in 2017-18. It is impressive to note that our trade has increased by 26% during 2017-18. Both of our countries need to sustain this upward trend and boost the trade even further.

I am glad to note that Botswana provides ample business opportunities to the Indian investors. Large number of Indian diaspora has already invested in Botswana. Indian companies are engaged in various sectors, including power transmission, infrastructural projects, IT, education, steel, diamond, trading etc. It shows Botswana Government’s commitment and progressive trade policies to attract investors. I also congratulate the Indian investors who are among the important investors in Botswana contributing significantly to employment creation.India is moving rapidly on the path of economic transformation with an annual growth rate of over 7%. It presents multiple opportunities for Botswana entrepreneurs in various sectors.

There is an encouraging swing in stock market indices, foreign exchange reserves, and public investments in infrastructure and welfare measures.

As per World Bank’s Ease of Business Index, India has climbed 42 places.Transformative taxation reforms like the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has made India a transparent and an integrated market with greater ease of doing business.Aiming to make India the 3rd largest consumer market in the world, we are moving forward to build a five trillion dollar economy by 2025.

Friends,

As you have seen, our multi-party democracy has demonstrated stability coupled with a safe and structured financial system which makes India one of the most attractive FDI destinations.Today, in India, there is a new enthusiasm, a new dynamism and a new quest for excellence in all spheres.Government of India has launched several flagship programs including the Swachh Bharat i.e. Clean India, Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Industrial Corridors and Smart Cities development programs.The Jan Dhan Yojana programme, under which more than 320 million bank accounts have been opened, is a giant leap towards financial inclusion.

I am delighted to invite Botswana companies to seize these current and emerging business opportunities.I am confident that this Global Expo will generate mutually beneficial commercial opportunities between India and Botswana and among all the participant countries and business entities.

With these words, now I officially declare the 13th Global Expo open.I hope Global Expo Botswana 2018 will succeed in bringing the world a little closer, and making it a little more prosperous, a little more inclusive and sustainable than today

Thank you.

Gaborone, Botswana
31 October 2018

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