Focus India-LAC - November 2017

Commerce Minister Mr Suresh Prabhu visited Cuba at the end of October and met with First Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel and other officials. India was partner country in the Havana Trade Fair this year, an opportunity to explore this rapidly opening market. He also met his counterparts from Suriname, Barbados, Dominican Republic and Haiti. The government is exploring possibilities of a trade agreement with the Caribbean Community (Caricom), a 15-nation trading bloc, and possibly a limited deal with Central America. The Caribbean accounts for less than 5 percent of India’s trade with LAC. Import of Caribbean tropical farm produce will not prejudice Indian farming. India can offer medicines, automobiles, engineering, textiles and leather products.

Mr. Prabhu then visited Panama on 1-2 November to discuss possibilities for using the country’s infrastructure to set up a logistics hub, availing its excellent regional location, shipping and air connections. Warehousing facilities would enable Indian business to promise quicker delivery to clients in that hemisphere.

A meeting was held in Delhi to take forward the expansion of the India-Mercosur Preferential Tariff Agreement, finalised in January 2004, effective from 2009. India had listed 450 tariff lines and Mercosur 452 lines for preferential treatment. The ongoing negotiations involve 4836 lines at 8-digit code from India’s side while Mercosur has offered 3358 lines. At the recent meeting, India handed over a list of 484 lines to Brazil, which holds the rotating Mercosur presidency. In their meeting in Goa in October 2016, PM Modi and President Temer of Brazil, the interlocutor of the four-nation grouping (with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), agreed to finalise the agreement by 2018.



November 9, 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 (

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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