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INDIA SHOWS INTEREST TO INVEST IN SEZS

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MBABANE – The High Commissioner of India to Eswatini, Ram Prasad, has requested to be furnished with details of various opportunities available for investment by Indian entities especially in the SEZs.

Prasad made the request during his meeting with the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sibani Mngomezulu yesterday. In response, he was assured that the same would be conveyed at the earliest once the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) policy was finalised.

Currently, the Kingdom of Eswatini is working around amending the SEZs Act in a bid to attract more investors as it had been noted that there existing Act had gaps, which were hindering its effectiveness. His Majesty the King had also charged each and every liSwati to go out and hunt for companies that could come and establish themselves in the country’s SEZs.

The high commissioner further shared that during his meeting with Mngomezulu yesterday, it was agreed that trade relations between India and Eswatini needed to be increased and strengthened. He highlighted that India and Eswatini have granted most favoured nation (MFN) status to each other vide the Trade Agreement signed in 2002.

Objective

He said provisions of the Agreement needed to be utilised to their full potential to realise this objective for the benefit of people of both countries. Prasad said it was also agreed that the trade data would be shared, to facilitate reconciliation of trade figures, which would enable informed decisions on improving and facilitating bilateral trade.

He revealed that a joint trade committee is to be set up as per the provisions of the Trade Agreement under the aegis of the ministries of commerce of both countries, which would look into all aspects of the trade, commerce and economic relations and recommend a best way forward for the bilateral trade and investment promotion. He further highlighted that participation of Indian companies at Eswatini International Trade Fair was discussed. The high commissioner sought various details of the Trade Fair, which could be disseminated to Indian entities. He was told the same would be given at the earliest.

Promised

During the meeting, the high commissioner further sought recommendations regarding possible participation of prominent industry leaders, trade bodies and businessmen from Eswatini at the CII-EximBank Conclave to be held in India. He was promised the same at the earliest. He further mentioned that the digital platform for citizen-centric services, popularly known as India Stack has been offered to Eswatini.

This included Fintech like the Rupay card and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which had revolutionised payments in India, bringing down the cost of transactions to the common citizen and immensely contributed to ease of doing business. The high commissioner highlighted the various opportunities which had been offered to Eswatini under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme for capacity building. 50 fully funded scholarships for short and medium-term capacity building courses, which included airfare, tuition, boarding and lodging.

It was also highlighted during the meeting that 30 fully funded scholarships under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for four-year graduate courses and two-year post graduate and doctoral programmes for studying in India were also offered. The scheme was currently opening and accepting applications. India is also offering admissions to Eswatini students for the BS Degree in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence at the Zanzibar campus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Overall, the meeting was very useful and productive and both HC and the CEO agreed to work closely together for the mutual benefit of both countries.

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