On August 3, Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar said that the ties between India and Latin American and Caribbean regions have moved on a new trajectory in the last nine years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
S Jaishankar highlighted the surging bilateral trade and the growing people-to-people connections between India and the Latin America and Caribbean regions. He was speaking at the 9th Confederation of Indian Industry-LAC Conclave here in the National Capital.
Addressing the event, Jaishankar said, “Over the last nine years since PM Modi has been at the helm, our ties have moved on a new trajectory. India’s relationship with the region is being nurtured across the full spectrum. Latin America and Caribbean regions have witnessed notable engagements with 34 high-level visits which include six visits each from the President and the Vice President and four from the Prime Minister.”
“The most recent of course, among them has been the visit of our president to Suriname, where she was conferred the country’s highest order,” he added.
The External Affairs Minister further emphasised that he himself has made regular visits to the region, which could have been higher if it had not been for two years of COVID.
“I expect next month to be in Cuba, and I still hope very much that during that, I will have further opportunities. But so far, I have visited Mexico Brazil, Argentina, more recently in Guyana, Panama, Colombia in the Dominican Republic,” he said.
He said that the two new Indian Embassies in Paraguay and Dominican Republic are further testament to India’s commitment to the region.
S Jaishankar highlighted that the bilateral trade between the two regions has surged to 50 billion USD during the financial year 2022-23, which is a testament to both, “the strength and the potential” of our economic partnership.
“It is worth noting that India’s exports to Brazil are worth 10 billion USD, which is twice what we export to Japan. Similarly, our exports to Mexico are in excess of 5 billion USD which is more than our exports to Canada. With the Dominican Republic, our exports were 329 million USD last year, and many Asian countries have still not reached that level,” Jaishankar added.
EAM further said that India was one of the first suppliers of Covid vaccines to the Latin American partners.
“During my travels and interactions I have noted a lot of goodwill for India among the people from the LAC region which reinforces the significance of trade and people-to-people connections,” he said.
He highlighted that India is leading successfully in executing projects in the Latin America Caribbean region to develop critical infrastructure including power transmission.
“India and LAC are today, two largest consuming economies, and therefore, food security is critical to both our populations. Indian sustainable farming techniques do complement LAC’s durability of arable land mass, thereby ensuring effective, sustainable agriculture,” Jaishankar further said.
He added, “Latin America has capabilities in producing and supplying raw materials. The region is a big source of gold and copper. And also for gold. India’s gold imports from the region last year stood in excess of six and a half billion dollars. And these were mainly from Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico and Chile was a main supplier of copper”.
The External Affairs Minister also highlighted four pillars as the source of intensified engagement between India and Latin America, namely; Supply Chain diversity, resource partnership, sharing of developmental experiences and addressing global challenges.
“Number one is ‘supply chain diversity’. The pandemic has shown us that today there is an urgent global need for more resilience and reliability in the supply chain. The international economy needs more redundant sourcing and more diversified production,” Jaishankar said.
He added, “Second is resource partnerships. PM Modi has put forward the ambition of becoming the third-largest economy in his next term. You can already see the rising demand for oil, gas, and minerals, and we see this as really a big opportunity for our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
S Jaishankar said that the other two pillars are the sharing of developmental experiences and addressing global challenges.
“As countries of the Global South we can surely benefit, we can actually benefit if we talk to each other about digital capabilities, health solutions, agricultural practices. Increasing training and exchanges will encourage more market exposure,” he said.
S Jaishankar added, “The fourth pillar is addressing global challenges. There are larger issues, global issues, and planetary issues, that we also need to look at. And collaborating on issues such as Climate Change, concerns of the Global South, reforming the global financial and multilateral structures”.
Highlighting as one of his major takeaways, Jaishankar said that India needs to find better ways to grow training and exchange, customise it as per the requirement of Latin American and Caribbean regions, and make it much more user-friendly and relevant.
The EAM further emphasised that initiatives like the ‘Voice of the South’ summit are proof of India’s intentions and a testament to its commitment to its partners in Latin America and the Caribbean.