All Posts (54)

Focus India-LAC - JULY 2019

With India suspending crude oil imports from Iran there was a partial focus on Latin America. At one time Venezuela was the third largest supplier of crude to India. Recent sanctions levied by the US government almost put paid to the option of shifting all lost volumes to Venezuela. Reliance and Nayara (former Essar now owned by Russia’s Rosneft) are the only Indian importers capable of refining Venezuelan heavy crude. Conflicting reports left the impression…

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On 28 June the European Union (EU) and MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) sealed a trade deal that they began negotiating 20 years ago. The agreement, which has to be ratified by EU members and Mercosur, would eliminate €4 billion ($4.6 billion) in duties for EU companies and merge two, vast regions into a bloc with a total economic output of €19 trillion. Over 90 percent of tariffs will be abolished. Mercosur, headquartered in the…

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Venezuela’s government and opposition met in informal talks in Oslo, Norway mid-May. Norwegian television network NRK, citing unnamed sources, reported that contacts between the Maduro and Guaidó camps began in Cuba before shifting to the Scandinavian country. The talks were held at a secret location in Oslo with the participation of Norway’s foreign ministry which said in a statement it had had “preliminary contacts with representatives of the main political actors of…

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Analyses of regional statistics revealed that foreign remittances to LAC increased in 2018 over 2017 by 10.2 percent to $85 billion. The highest recipient by far was Mexico ($33 billion, followed by Guatemala with $9.29 billion). Remittances are a vital input for LAC economies, constituting up to 39 percent of the GDP of Haiti at $3.34 billion, and 20 percent for Honduras at $4.75 billion. Venezuela’s battered economy also got a vital $3.4 billion. India ranked highest…

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Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro made his first bilateral foreign trip, after assuming office in January, to the US 18-19 March accompanied by six Ministers. He met President Trump: the two have a lot in common. Both have emerged winners despite being marginal to their respective political establishments, appeal directly to their voting base and seem impervious to attacks on their personalities. Both have taken radical steps in pursuance of their campaign promises.…

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Focus India-LAC - May 2019

President Ram Nath Kovind visited Bolivia and Chile 28-31 March. While relations with Chile have been steady and indeed growing, Bolivia and India have been troubled by the collapse of the iron ore mining investment by Jindal Steel a decade ago, currently in arbitration. With the left in Latin America on the backfoot, and most countries increasingly wary of China’s deep penetration in the continent, India offers Bolivia an opportunity to diversify economic…

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Economic Developments - March 2019

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in a report released 15 January informed that extreme poverty in the region has risen since 2015 to 10.2 percent. The study, based on figures from 2017, found that while the…

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Focus India-LAC - March 2019

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri visited Delhi and Mumbai on 18 and 19 February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations and revive a relationship that was stagnating before PM Modi’s visit in October last year for the G20 summit. Ten documents were signed - including cooperation in defence, space and nuclear technology - and a Special Declaration on Terrorism “particularly emphasizing the scourge of cross border terrorism”. Reflecting Argentina’s…

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Political Developments - March 2019

2019 commenced with troublesome signs in some parts of LAC :-

- Venezuela saw a dangerous standoff between the sitting President Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaidó, the President of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, who declared himself Interim President on 23 January, and was recognized as such by the US and about 50 other countries in Europe, LAC, etc. (see below)

- Central America saw much turmoil, not least on…

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Political Developments - January 2019

China’s increasing influence in the region was apparent during December with the visit by President Xi Jinping to Argentina and Panama. The only G-20 head of state to undertake a state visit to Argentina, Xi held his fifth meeting with President Mauricio Macri in three years and effectively positioned China as an export market, infrastructure financier and source of geopolitical support. 37 cooperation and commercial agreements on infrastructure, energy and finance worth…

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Focus India-LAC - January 2019

Prime Minister Modi attended the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina end November. Apart from the summit meetings and others, including trilaterals with US and Japan, Russia and China, PM also met with Argentina’s President Maurico Macri, President Sebastian Pinera of Chile and the Prime Minister of Jamaica from the LAC…

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Economic Developments - January 2019

The G20 summit (30 Nov-1 Dec) was a bittersweet milestone for Latin America and host President Mauricio Macri of Argentina. Instead of the prestige associated with the event, there was an atmosphere of discord and skepticism. Consensus was barely achieved on the final day, with the US still standing apart. Of the three LAC…

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Economic Developments - November 2018

On 1 October, President Trump triumphantly announced the US had concluded a successful renegotiation of the NAFTA treaty with Mexico and Canada, after more than a year of talks, rebranding it the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” or USMCA. Marcelo Ebrard, the Foreign Minister-designate of the incoming government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, accompanied by his colleagues, told the media that the agreement reached with the United States and Canada is an…

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Political Developments - November 2018

On 28 October, Brazil elected Jair Bolsonaro as President in the second round. A former military officer, 63-year old Bolsonaro has represented the Social Liberal Party (PSL) in Brazil’s Congress (parliament) from Rio de Janeiro since 1991. His left-wing challenger, Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party (PT), did better in the second round with 44.8 percent to Bolsonaro’s 55.2. Haddad was a late entrant to the race and labored under the shadow of his patron, former President…

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Focus India-LAC - November 2018

The 8th India–LAC Conclave got underway in Santiago, Chile on 1 October. This is the second conclave (organised by the CII sponsored by GOI) held abroad. The first was in Mexico in 2016. Chile is currently the fourth largest trading partner of India, with 89 percent of its exports comprising products from the mining sector and the fifth largest export market for India in 2017-18 ($763 million) in LAC. India and Chile in 2017 operationalised the expanded India-Chile Preferential Trade…

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Political Developments - September 2018

Mexico elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - popularly known by his initials AMLO - on 1st July for a six-year term by a wide margin over his conservative rivals: 53 percent to AMLO, 22.5 percent to Ricardo Anaya from the National Action Party (PAN), and 16.4 percent to Jose Antonio Meade from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Sixty four-year old AMLO heads a three-party coalition led by the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) which he founded in 2014. His movement has…

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Economic Developments - September 2018

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in its report released on 5th July revealed that foreign direct investment (FDI) in LAC has been falling since 2011. In 2017 at $ 161.673 billion dollars, it was down 3.6% from 2016. The decline is attributed to lower prices for basic export products, which have significantly reduced investment in extractive industries, and to the economic recession experienced in 2015 and 2016, mainly in Brazil. Though the region resumed…

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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: $…

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An IMF bailout package of $50 billion for Argentina announced in June created waves, with popular protests against market-friendly President Mauricio Macri, whose government struggles to extricate the country from an era of economic populism under the Kirschners (former Presidents 2003-15). Elected in 2015, Macri abolished exchange rate and capital controls, and reduced agricultural export taxes. He rebuilt the statistics agency, gave the Central Bank back its autonomy and opened up…

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Focus India-LAC - July 2018

President R. N. Kovind’s visit to Suriname and Cuba in June was a feeble attempt to reiterate India’s ‘interest’ in the LAC region. Considering the scanty number of high level visits to the region, Indian VVIP visits to Cuba have been fairly impressive. Vice President Ansari’s visit in 2015 was preceded by PM Manmohan Singh in 2006 and EAM S M Krishna in 2012. Considering the extremely low economic value of the relationship (around $40 million trade annually, zero Indian investment after…

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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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