Pretoria: With their trilateral commerce increasing rapidly despite global economic recession, India, Brazil and South Africa on Wednesday decided to sort out issues related to non-tariff barriers, connectivity and visa matters as part of giving further boost to investments.

At the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit, attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, the three countries decided to hold annual meetings of Trade Ministers.

Commerce and Industry & Textiles Minister Anand Sharma offered to host the first annual trilateral meeting in New Delhi in early March 2012. The dates are to be decided through diplomatic channels.

Singh, South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressed satisfaction at the growth of trilateral trade which has already reached USD 20 billion.

The three-nation trade as already crossed the target of USD 15 billion set for 2012. India's trade with its trade partners in IBSA accounts for a majority of this trade.

"I am confident that we will be able to cross the target of USD 25 billion by 2015," the Prime Minister said after the Summit while noting that there was vast potential to increase and expand the trilateral cooperation.

"We need to do much more to address the present deficit of intra-IBSA linkages in terms of people's travel, transport facilities and other related infrastructure," he said.  The leaders mandated the Working Group on Trade and Investment to examine all issues related to trade holistically including issues relating to non-tariff barriers, maritime and air links and opportunities for investments, a press statement said.

Direct air connectivity is expected to give tourism a major boost and the trade ministers agreed to look at the visa related issues so that the process for business visas is made easy.

The Ministers also decided to set up a technical team under the IBSA's Working Group on Trade and Investment to reconcile the trade data and devise a common reporting format as well as methods for capturing all the data of trilateral trade including those occurring through third countries.

Due to different methodologies of capturing trade data (calendar year vs financial year or CIF or FOB) at times the numbers vary.

The Indian and South African trade ministers also decided to enter into long term contracts for purchase of raw materials and commodities, and the recently opened office of MMTC in South Africa has been mandated by Anand Sharma to work on this proposal expeditiously.

The Trade Ministers also felt that with the ratification process of the MERCOSUR SACU FTA advancing, and initiation of the process of deepening of the India MERCOSUR Preferential trade agreement (PTA), decks are now clear for making progress on a trilateral FTA involving India SACU and MERCOSUR. This FTA linking developing countries in the three continents envisaged as one of the most ambitious free trade area and will be a symbol of growing south-south cooperation, said Sharma.

His sentiment was shared by his counterparts from Brazil and South Africa and Brazilian Trade Minister Pimental offered to host the second Ministerial meeting of India-SACU- MERCOSUR in June/July 2012 in Brazil.

The three Ministers also agreed to seek an opportunity to meet before the WTO's 8th Ministerial conference in December in Geneva to coordinate their position on all issues relating to the WTO negotiations and to discuss the possible outcomes as well as the way forward on Doha Development round.

(Agencies)