Focus India-LAC - September 2018

Recently published statistics on India’s trade with LAC by India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) of the Department of Commerce reveal that in the financial year 2017-18, India’s exports and imports both rose. Exports rose from $ 10.7 billion in 2016-17 (3.9 percent of worldwide) to $ 12.4 billion (4.1 percent). Exports rose from $ 20.25 billion to $ 24.63 billion, constituting 5.3 percent of India’s exports worldwide in both years. India’s star export markets were Mexico: $ 3.93 billion ($ 2.95 billion in 2016-17); Brazil: $ 3.06 billion ($ 2.4 billion); Colombia: $ 939 million (784 million); Peru: $ 760 million (696 million); Chile: $ 763 million (674 million); Argentina: $ 708 million (510 million). Although there is much more potential, the increase in exports is encouraging because of the presence of supply chains set up by growing Indian investments in that region, enabling Indian auto, pharma, chemicals and other companies to export to markets they have established and nourished. Apart from crude oil imports, which diminished in volume and value over past years, significant import of gold is recorded from Peru, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, while copper import from Chile more than doubled from $ 911 million to $1.74 billion, thanks to lower tariffs under the preferential tariff agreement which was amended recently.

Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA met India’s Reliance and Rosneft (which has bought operations of Essar in India and renamed these Nayara) over fall in crude supplies. The two Indian refiners have been purchasing over 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2018. With fall in Venezuelan production and commitments to major creditors, PDVSA shipped 280,000 bpd to India in the first half of the year, a 21 percent drop from 355,500 bpd shipped in the same period of 2017. The volume fell to 240,000 bpd in July, complicating matters for Indian refiners facing reduced Iranian imports. A tanker bottleneck in the main Venezuelan port of Jose further complicates matters, with most buyers refusing to take delivery on the high seas, because of the threat of expropriation of Venezuelan assets to enforce a $2 billion award by Conoco Philips against PDVSA. Venezuela’s oil production averaged 1.58 million bpd in the first five months of 2018, according to figures reported to OPEC, its lowest annual level since 1985.

On 27 August, the Brazilian steel conglomerate, Gerdau sold its interest in its Indian subsidiary for $120 million to Blue Coral Investment Holdings Pvt. Ltd. yMountainpeak Investment Holdings Ltd. Gerdau had bought the steel plant, which manufactures 250,000 tonnes of steel and 300,000 tonnes of laminated steel sheets, from Kalyani Steel a few years ago but now will focus on its holdings in the Americas.

 

 September 12, 2018

 

 

 

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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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