Mexico may have displaced Brazil to become India’s principal trading partner in 2017. According to Mexican statistics cited by the Embassy of India in Mexico, 2017 saw a 33 percent increase in bilateral trade to $ 8.35 billion, with India’s exports at $5.02 and imports at $3.34 billion. Indian statistics follow the financial year and show exports to Mexico April-Jan at $3.1 billion and imports at $3 billion. Comparative figures for Brazil for 2016 and 2017 place total trade below $7 billion. Though Mexico also exports considerable crude oil to India (around $2 billion), the trade is much more diversified than with Brazil, and consequently less prone to volatile commodity prices.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was expected to participate in the International Solar Alliance meeting on 9 March in Delhi, but cancelled at the last minute. A ministerial delegation comprising Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Trade and Investment Minister Vielma Mora and Petroleum Minister Manuel Quevedo met in early March with Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu. Venezuela is reaching out to India for supply of pharma and other essentials. It also seeks more upstream investment from India. India’s import of crude oil – 98 percent of its imports from Venezuela, all by the private sector – dropped from 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 300,000 bpd by February 2018. Given a fall in Venezuelan production and commitments to its principal creditors, Russia and China, India has redirected some purchases to the Gulf and other sources. During the visit, the delegation is understood to have offered a discount of 30 percent on oil imported by India if this is denominated in its cryptocurrency Petro. Venezuelan authorities have reportedly (Business Standard) entered into an agreement with Delhi-based Bitcoin trading firm Coinsecure, to add the Petro to its basket of cryptocurrencies. On the verge of bankruptcy, Venezuela appears desperate to legitimise and propagate the Petro, to open channels that help it skirt the need for hard currency.
Gold has become an important component of Latin American exports to India - close to $ 3 billion in 2017-18. There has been a big jump in buying doré bars as the gold importers are capitalising on the differential in import duties to bring the yellow metal into the country cheaply. According to DGFT statistics for April-January the most significant exporters were Peru ($1.39 billion), Bolivia (over $550 million), Colombia from where, at $241 million, gold was the principal export to India, and Brazil ($ 203 million).
May 9, 2018