All Posts (48)

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…

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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…
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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,…
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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,…
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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…

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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…
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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…

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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…

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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…
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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…

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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…
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Focus India-LAC - July 2017

On 21 June, the first meeting of the India-Peru Joint Commission, set up in 2013, was held in Lima at the level of Secretary/Vice Minister. Peru is an important and growing market for Indian exports. It is a member of the Pacific Alliance where India has observer status, which it seeks to upgrade to Associate Member status. Peru has agreed to negotiate a free trade agreement with India and signed up to the India based International Solar Alliance and other accords on renewable energy and…
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Presidents of Argentina and Chile both attended the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Summit in Beijing in May, adding on bilateral visits to sign agreements. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meetings in 2016 with Bachelet and Macri launched the China-Chile Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and agreement on two nuclear plants to generate over 1200 MW of electricity in Argentina. China is the largest trading partner of Brazil, Peru and Chile, and the second largest for still more LAC…

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Economic Developments - May 2017

Mexico has taken on the Trump challenge by accelerating talks with signatories of the TPP, Brazil and Argentina who were invited to the March meeting of the 4-nation Pacific Alliance, followed by a meeting between the two blocs in April in Buenos Aires. This market-friendly grouping, formed in 2012 by Mexico with Chile, Peru and Colombia, has drawn attention for its success in lowering trade and investment barriers. US threats have already impacted the Mexican peso, FDI and may hit GDP…
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Focus India-LAC - May 2017

The framework for negotiation of a Trade Agreement with Peru was finalised during the visit of  Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Edgar Vasquez to India in March. The agreement falls short of a free trade agreement that Peru was willing to negotiate. India  prefers to move slowly though both sides agreed to include services and investments within the ambit of the negotiations. Peru is one of the more dynamic economies of the region. The election last year of the market-friendly…
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Ecuador’s Former Vice President Lenin Moreno (2007-13), candidate of the ruling party ALIANZA PAIS, was elected President in the second round of voting in the presidential election on 2 April. Moreno, a paraplegic who had done better in the first round in February, defeated the conservative businessman, Guillermo Lasso of the CREO party, by 51.1 to 48.9 percent. This victory has come as a relief for the Left in South America, where allied regimes have lost to the Right recently in Brazil,…
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Political Developments - March 2017

The 5th Summit of the 33-nation Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in the Dominican Republic on 25 January 2017 revealed apparent fissures in the region. Only 10 heads of state attended. Mexico, Chile, Panama, Colombia and Guatemala cancelled at the last minute. The political declaration called for Washington to return the Guantanamo military base and end the economic embargo on Cuba “without conditions”. It also called for a “national dialogue” in Venezuela and…

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Economic Developments - March 2017

IMF assesses that Latin America’s economy will grow just 1.2% in 2017: Brazil (0.2%); Mexico (1.7%); Argentina (2.2%); Chile (2.2%) and Peru (4.3%). Venezuela’s GDP will shrink further.
 
UNCTAD figures show that despite a fall in foreign investment in Brazil from $65 billion in 2015 to $50 billion in 2016, it was ranked 7th, ahead of India in 8th place with $42 billion ($59 billion in 2015). Brazil’s Central Bank estimated FDI in 2015 at $75 billion and in 2016…
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Focus India-LAC - March 2017

After Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA and ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), last year signed a deal allowing the latter to get 17,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to recover dues of about $540 million, OVL received the first installment of $19 million in end of January. OVL has invested $200 million in the San Cristobal field in Venezuela and had not received any dividend since 2009. The two companies also agreed that ONGC will arrange a loan of $320 million to boost output from the field,…

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Economic Developments - January 2017

Peru hosted the 24th Summit of the 21-nation Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on 19-20 November. Attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, the Summit agreed “to carefully study the possibility for an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area”, an idea promoted by China and linked to the ongoing negotiations for an Asian RCEP. Even as the leaders sought to allay fears about the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),…
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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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