Focus India-LAC - March 2017

After Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA and ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), last year signed a deal allowing the latter to get 17,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to recover dues of about $540 million, OVL received the first installment of $19 million in end of January. OVL has invested $200 million in the San Cristobal field in Venezuela and had not received any dividend since 2009. The two companies also agreed that ONGC will arrange a loan of $320 million to boost output from the field, currently about 21,000-22,000 bpd, to 27,000-30,000 bpd.

The Cabinet on 18 January gave the green light to negotiations for an agreement with Peru on trade in goods, services and investment. A Joint Study Group (JSG) between India and Peru submitted its report in October, 2016. Peru was the third export destination for India in the LAC región in 2015-16, with bilateral trade at US$1,523.35 million and India’s exports at US$ 703.12 million.
Indian software major Wipro, which has a significant presence in Latin America with offices across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, announced in January the acquisition of Info Server for around Rs 60 crores. The Brazil-based company, providing custom application development and software deployment services, has some of the largest Brazilian banks as its clients, which will help Wipro consolidate its base in the vital LAC finance industry.

India’s Financial Express, quoting an unnamed official source, claims India is evolving a strategy to ensure adequate supplies of lithium, used to make batteries for electric vehicles (EV), meeting defence production requirements and for its ambitious solar power mission, from the “lithium triangle” of Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Bolivia has the world’s largest untapped reserves, in which China is already invested. Although it seeks Indian investment, the unfortunate experience of the Jindal group’s venture in its iron ore investment a few years ago, and Bolivia’s uncertain investor protection regime, may need to be studied and even negotiated,to ensure any Indian joint venture in this sector does not suffer the same fate.

India’s public sector Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. in Assam has been refining waxy crude for years and turning out large quantities of paraffin wax. It has ventured into LAC with exports earlier to Mexico and Nicaragua. In January-February it exported 240 tonnes to Brazil and smaller quantities to the Dominican Republic.

 

March 14, 2017

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About the Author

Ambassador Deepak Bhojwani

Former Ambassador of India to Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

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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