Focus India-LAC - January 2019

Prime Minister Modi attended the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina end November. Apart from the summit meetings and others, including trilaterals with US and Japan, Russia and China, PM also met with Argentina’s President Maurico Macri, President Sebastian Pinera of Chile and the Prime Minister of Jamaica from the LAC region.

In early November Venezuela’s national oil company PdVSA despatched a cargo of crude oil worth $35 million towards its debt of over $500 million to India’s ONGC (Videsh) Ltd. (OVL). The shipment was reportedly made to Reliance Industries Ltd. which is the principal buyer of heavier Venezuelan crude from India. Reliance will pay OVL in turn. Venezuela which owed OVL $449 million by 2013, is unable to service its debt to OVL and went back on an agreement to supply crude in exchange for the dividends it owes OVL in a joint venture project. OVL announced it was not going to invest any more in its Venezuelan venture as a consequence.

Brazil in December sought consultations at the WTO over India’s subsidies to sugarcane producers, which it claims significantly impact prices in the sugar market and have affected Brazil’s sugar production adversely. India has conveyed to the WTO that its sugar policy is a purely domestic issue and has not distorted international trade in the commodity in any way. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Brazil may concede its status as the world’s top sugar producer to India in 2018. Indian production is expected to rise to 35.9 million tons against a 21 percent lower Brazilian production of 30.6 million tons. Brazil is expected to remain the top exporter, followed by Thailand. In 2017-18 India imported US$ 919 million worth of sugar from Brazil.

 

January 11, 2019

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Ambassador Deepak Bhojwani joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1978. He retired in February 2012. During his career, he was accredited as Ambassador in seven Latin American countries, resident in Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba, concurrent in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and was Consul General in Sao Paulo. He served abroad in three Continents – Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia), Europe (Spain and Czech Republic) and Latin America.

In the Ministry of External Affairs, he served in the Divisions dealing with Administration; West Asia and North Africa; US and Canada; and had a brief stint at the United Nations.

Ambassador Bhojwani also served as Private Secretary to the Prime Minister of India, Mr P.V.Narasimha Rao for two years from 1994 to 1996, and as Special Assistant to the Minister of State for External Affairs and for Science and Technology, Mr K.R.Narayanan, from 1985 till 1988.

He writes extensively on Latin America and its relations with India. He has written a book published in 2015 titled ‘Latin America, the Caribbean and India: Promise and Challenge’.

He is currently a Consultant for Latin America and the Caribbean through his firm LATINDIA (www.latindia.in)

Ambassador Bhojwani also serves as Independent Director on the Board of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., one of the largest state oil and gas companies of India.

Since January 2017 he has been Country Manager and Director, Magotteaux Industries Pvt. Ltd.

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