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

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.