Focus India-LAC - July 2017

On 21 June, the first meeting of the India-Peru Joint Commission, set up in 2013, was held in Lima at the level of Secretary/Vice Minister. Peru is an important and growing market for Indian exports. It is a member of the Pacific Alliance where India has observer status, which it seeks to upgrade to Associate Member status. Peru has agreed to negotiate a free trade agreement with India and signed up to the India based International Solar Alliance and other accords on renewable energy and intellectual property. Peru supports India’s membership of the UN Security Council. 
 
On 23 June, India and Mexico held the seventh Joint Commission meeting and the fourth round of Foreign Office consultations in Mexico City at Secretary/Vice Minister level. The relationship is labelled a Privileged Partnership, in contrast to the strategic partnership with Brazil. India’s trade with Mexico surpassed that with Brazil for the first time last year, with exports close to $3.5 billion. Strategic issues discussed included Mexico’s support to India’s bid for NSG membership, which had been committed during PM Modi’s brief visit to Mexico last year. A conference on regional and global disarmament will be organised, harking back to the Rajiv-Gandhi led six nation disarmament initiative of the 1980s, in which Mexico was a participant.
 
The amplified preferential trade agreement (PTA) between India and Chile came into force officially on 16 May. Under the  PTA in 2006 India offered tariff concessions to Chile on 178 items while it received tariff concessions for 296 products. Chile has offered India a margin of preference (MoP) — the percentage by which identified imports from one country are subject to lower tariffs than the regular rate offered to all other trade partners — of 100 percent on 556 items. On 736 items the MoP is 80 per cent. India has offered 100 percent MoP on 10 per cent of Chilean items, and on 60 percent an MoP between 60 per cent and 100 per cent. Chile was India’s third largest trading partner in 2015-16. Trade of $2.64 billion: exports at $680 million and imports at $1.96 billion. India’s exports to Chile consist of transport equipment, drugs and pharmaceuticals, yarn of polyester fibres, tyres and tubes, manufacture of metals, apparel, organic/inorganic and agro chemicals, textiles, ready-made garments, plastic goods, leather products, engineering goods, imitation jewellery, sports goods and handicrafts.
 
India’s Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia led an official and business delegation to Colombia and Ecuador 16-19 May. She co-chaired the First Meeting of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) in Ecuador, which conveyed interest in a Preferential Trade Agreement. Bilateral trade stood at $716 million in 2015-16: exports at $153.20 million and imports $563.77 million. India imports 99 percent of the teakwood exported from Ecuador, which can also supply gold and silver. Ecuador offers preferential commercial access to regional markets and the US dollar is its official currency.
 
In Colombia, Commerce Secretary co-chaired the third Meeting of the Joint Committee for India Colombia Business Development Cooperation. India’s bilateral trade with Colombia stood at $1695.89 in 2015-16: exports at $888.11 million and imports $807.79 million. Imports have fallen with the fall in prices of crude oil, a major item of import. In focus are telecommunication, infrastructure development, metals, hydrocarbons, information technology & industrial technology, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology products, chemicals, textiles, two wheelers, automobiles & auto-parts, mining of coal, gems & jewellery, minerals, machineries, and non-conventional energy. Colombia wants to diversify its export basket in agriculture and food processing. Its major export commodities include petroleum, coal, emeralds, coffee, nickel, cut flowers, bananas and apparel. India’s gold imports from Colombia, at $ 442 million in 2015-16, surpassed even crude oil.
 
Brazilian aerospace major Embraer has partnered with Air India Engineering Services Limited, a subsidiary of Air India, to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Secunderabad, to maintain its brand of private and business jets in the entire Southeast Asian region. Embraer has not made a big dent in India, selling VIP and surveillance aircraft to the government, for which it is under investigation for bribes by the CBI. Air Costa, now defunct had two Embraer aircraft and a few other customers have purchased executive jets from the company.
 
July 7, 2017

 

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About the Author

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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