New Delhi–India is on the way to becoming the fifth largest economy in the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.

He was addressing the India-South Africa Business Forum organised jointly by Indian industry chambers CII, Ficci and Assocham in the presence of visiting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Modi also noted that India had risen to 77th place in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business rankings and is currently among the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI) according to UNCTAD.

“We are on way to becoming the 5th largest economy globally and have jumped to 77th position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings,” he said.

According to the projections released earlier this week by British consultancy multinational PwC, India is likely to surpass the UK in the 2019 rankings of world’s largest economies, knocking the latter from fifth to seventh place in the global table.

Speaking of India’s bilateral trade with South Africa which crossed the $10 billion-mark in 2017-18, the Prime Minister said simplification of the visa regime between both countries, as well as improving air connectivity, would contribute much to boost the trade relationship.

He said there is considerable scope for increasing bilateral trade in the gems and jewellery sector, for instance, through direct procurement of diamonds which would “help improve economies of scale and reduce costs.”

Noting that Indian investment into the African nation is growing and has touched $10 billion, Modi said India will be happy to share its experience with South Africa in the area of policy reforms and setting up ground level agencies.

“I assure you that New India would welcome you to look at all available opportunities, particularly in food and agro processing, deep mining, defence, fintech, insurance and infrastructure sectors,” he said

“Likewise, India could also partner with South Africa in startups, health care and pharma, biotech, IT and IT enabled sectors,” he added.

In his address the South African President noted that as many as 150 Indian companies are operating in South Africa providing employment to as many as 20,000 local people., while “India is a significant destination for South African exports.”

“There are 29 South African companies operating in India such as the Airports Company South Africa (a shareholder and technical partner in Mumbai International Airport), FirstRand Bank, Old Mutual, Sanlam and Naspers,” he said.

” A number of South African companies have shown interest in investing in India. I have brought with me on this visit a large delegation of a cross section of South Afican companies,” he said.

Ramaphosa also said that in line with the latest BRICS Declaration of leaders on encouraging investment-led trade, he is looking forward to increased two-way investment activity between South Africa and India. (IANS)