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India, Brazil and South Africa Boost Cooperation

India, Brazil and South Africa have taken steps to increase trade between their emerging economies.

For decades, India, Brazil, and South Africa had little to do with each other economically.

The three countries, which have emerged as economic and political leaders in the developing world, set out to change their relationship in 2003.

They launched an initiative known as the India, Brazil and South Africa Dialogue Forum to promote the interests of their rapidly growing economies. As part of that effort, they held their first summit recently in Brazil, where agreements to boost cooperation in trade, technology and politics were signed.

India wants to use South Africa as a gateway to trade with the rest of Africa, and Brazil as a route to other Latin American nations. South Africa and Brazil in turn hope to gain entry into South Asia through India.

Members of the large business delegation that accompanied Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the summit say India's potential for enhancing trade in Africa and Latin America is vast.

"The Indian industry is raring to go into African nations, as well as Latin American nations," said Shipra Tripathi, a Director at the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi. "The Indian industry is looking at large number of sectors for participation, starting from agriculture, agro-processing, small and medium industries in all the sectors, engineering, research and development, as well as in adding value to natural resources in Africa."

As the three countries' growing economies guzzle more fuel, the leaders agreed to cooperate on developing alternative sources of energy. India has offered to share wind and solar power technologies, while Brazil says it can help India and South Africa develop ethanol, which it produces in large quantities from sugar cane.

Three-way trade between India, Brazil and South Africa currently totals about $8 billion. The leaders plan to increase that to $10 billion by 2007.

Two-way trade between India and South Africa has jumped by 150 percent in four years to $4 billion last year. Trade between India and Brazil is also up, from $400 million in 1999 to more than $2 billion in 2005.

The three nations are also exploring the possibility of establishing a free-trade agreement that they hope will eventually cover the continents they represent.