All Posts (48)

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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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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.…

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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…
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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…
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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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