All Posts (57)

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: $…

Read more…

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…

Read more…

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…

Read more…

On 17 June, Colombia elected 41-year old Ivan Duque of the Centro Democratico (CD) as president by 53.98 percent to left-wing challenger Gustavo Petro’s 41.81 percent. Duque starts with a relatively clean sheet, though he is rumoured to be under the shadow of former President Alvaro Uribe (2002-10) who founded the CD in 2013. Initially patron, then the implacable political adversary of the outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos, Uribe and his political following have been critical of the…

Read more…

On 8 April Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) surrendered to the authorities, pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court which refused his appeal against a 12-year jail term for corruption. He is the first former Brazilian president to be jailed, and cannot run for president in the October elections, in which he was the leading candidate. Though his supporters came out in large numbers to protest, a majority of Brazilians seem relieved that the system has reached out to punish the…

Read more…

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its 2018 economic growth forecast for Latin America upward to 2 percent, largely due to the recovery in Brazil. It tentatively forecasts 2.8 percent growth for 2019. In its April 2018 World Economic Outlook report, the IMF pegs Brazil’s growth at 2.3 percent due to “stronger private consumption and investment”. A rise in commodity prices has helped. Chile and Ecuador’s revised growth forecasts (from 3 to 3.4 percent and from 2.2 to 2.5 percent,…

Read more…

Focus India-LAC - May 2018

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.…

Read more…
Brazil’s political crisis deepened with an appeals court confirming former President Mr. Lula da Silva’s conviction, decreed in July last year, increasing the prison term from 9 to 12 years. The charges were that Lula accepted a property during his presidency from engineering company OAS, in exchange for helping that firm secure contracts with state oil company Petrobras. Seventy two-year old Lula condemned the decision and said this strengthened his resolve to run for president in…
Read more…

Economic Developments - March 2018

Chile’s low ranking in the World Bank’s Index of Doing Business became controversial after the Bank’s chief economist, Paul Romer declared that the reports which determined the ranking for Chile may have been biased against the left-wing government of President Michele Bachelet. Chile ranked 34 under the administration of right wing President Sebastian Pinera (2010 to 2014), who has just been re-elected, but as low as 57 during Bachelet’s two terms in office, from 2006 to 2010, and from…
Read more…

Focus India-LAC - March 2018

The Washington DC based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) released in January a new study, “Latindia: The Future of Cooperation between India and Latin America,” which covers issues such as export destination markets, strategic business areas, global value chains, productive synergies, and opportunities for market development between the two. The report estimates that trade between India and Latin America reached USD 30 billion in 2016 (from a peak of USD 45 billion in 2013), suggesting…

Read more…

Political Developments - January 2018

On 17 December, in the second round of voting, Chile re-elected conservative former President Sebastian Piñera (2010-2014) to succeed Michelle Bachelet. Piñera got 54.57 percent of the vote to 45.43 percent for his centre-left opponent Alejandro Guillier, the ruling coalition candidate. Politically stable Chile has focused on economic and social reform. President Bachelet, whose Broad Front coalition included the communists, passed progressive but controversial legislation on education and…
Read more…

Focus India-LAC - January 2018

Colombia’s Foreign Minister, Maria Angela Holguin visited India 6-9 November, along with Colombia’s Commerce Minister. They met India’s External Affairs and Commerce Ministers. India’s trade with Colombia – a member of the market-friendly Pacific Alliance along with Mexico, Peru and Chile - has been erratic. India principal import - crude oil - has dropped from $1.77 billion in 2014-15 to $273 million in 2016-17. Exports fell to $785 million in 2016-17, from $900 million the year before,…
Read more…

Economic Developments - January 2018

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced on 2 November that all external debt would be ‘restructured’. Venezuela has been in crisis since 2015 when oil prices fell, and has built up enormous debt of US$ 66 billion. PdVSA managed to pay $1.21 billion to its bondholders, postponing an expected default. Maduro blamed the ‘global financial dictatorship’ and the political opposition which instigated discriminatory measures against Venezuela. In August, the US imposed financial sanctions,…
Read more…

Political Developments - November 2017

Brazil’s leading prosecutor filed a document containing 230 pages with the Supreme Court charging former Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff with running a criminal organisation involving cartel formation, corruption and money laundering through state-owned oil firm Petrobras. The charges indicted 6 other Workers Party (PT) functionaries, including two former Finance Ministers. On 14 September, President Michel Temer was charged with obstruction of justice and racketeering. Collusive…

Read more…

Economic Developments - November 2017

Presidents of Brazil and Mexico visited China early September in connection with the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, to which Mexico was a special invitee. Chinese media: Chinese authorities publicised the Latin American connection. Mexico faces a challenge over the continuation of NAFTA from the Trump administration. China and Brazil signed 14 cooperation agreements. The two leaders agreed to collaborate on China’s Belt and Road Initiative especially global telecommunications and infrastructure…
Read more…

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…

Read more…

Economic Developments - September 2017

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to LAC declined by 7.9 percent to $167.043 billion in 2016, due to low commodity prices, sluggish economic growth and global trend of shifting investment in developed economies, according to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). At 3.6 per cent of the region's gross domestic product (GDP), against the global average is 2.5 per cent, investment by transnational corporations in the region's economies is crucial. Brazil…

Read more…

Focus India-LAC - September 2017

Venezuela’s cash-strapped national oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PdVSA) has offered India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) an extra stake in a joint venture, according to a July Reuters report. PdVSA is making slow payments under a recent agreement to OVL towards over $500 million in pending dividends. PdVSA reportedly offered 9 per cent further equity to OVL, which holds 40 per cent in the project, currently producing around 23,000 barrels of heavy oil per day. The price of the deal is…
Read more…

Political Developments - September 2017

On 5 August the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly (ANC) - all 545 members from the Chavista bloc - ‘elected’ to refashion the current constitution promulgated by Hugo Chavez in 1999, held its inaugural session. Widely regarded as President Maduro’s ploy to strengthen his hold on power and further marginalise the opposition - which holds a two-thirds majority since December 2015 in the emasculated parliament – the election was preceded by violent protests by civil society and the political…

Read more…
The political fallout in Brazil of the ongoing ‘Car Wash’ investigations into corruption deepened, with the publication of a conversation in which President Michel Temer allegedly colluded with an accused businessman to defend the former Speaker of the Parliament, now in prison. A leading Senator of the main opposition Social Democratic party and potential presidential candidate, Mr Aecio Neves, was similarly exposed and is being tried by the Supreme Court. All this happened as former…
Read more…

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.

You need to be a member of Ananta Centre to add comments!

Join Ananta Centre