Building a Robust India-Argentina Partnership
India is a challenge for us. It’s not only the complexities in dealing with such a large and diverse country, but also the wide scope of issues in the bilateral agenda that makes our job as diplomats quite an exhilarating but demanding task.
I have been here for year and a half now and I still consider myself as a newcomer to India. For Argentina, these are interesting times, as both countries have been interacting and meeting at high level quite frequently. What transpires from those interactions is a shared understanding between Indian authorities and businessmen – the need to enhance the relationship with Latin America, and particularly with Argentina.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Mauricio Macri have met five times in the last 3 years. In 2018, during the Argentine presidency of G-20, we welcomed PM Modi in Buenos Aires. President Macri paid a State Visit to India in February this year. These exchanges expressed the importance that both countries assign to the bilateral relation, and the shared commitment in strengthening our association. It is an upgrade in a long and rich relation, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
One of the most challenging aspects of our bilateral relation is the economic one. I feel that we do lag in terms of trade, and that we can do much more in that field. Although our bilateral commercial exchanges are around USD 3 billion a year – which is not meagre if you consider, for example, the distance between both nations, I believe that there is scope for its growth.
This remains one of the main challenges that I have as an Ambassador here in India, and in this regard, we have been working very hard to enlarge and diversify our trade nexus. I think that this objective should be aimed at with the win-win equation at its centre. The trade balance doesn’t have any meaning if it’s not mutually advantageous.
Boosting the annual bilateral trade
Bilateral trade between India and Latin America is low but looking at the numbers, one will find that the trade with Latin American nations is larger than with other regions.
We have the capability to achieve more specifically in three areas.
One is the agriculture sector, wherein we can work together and increase the volume of trade. Another area that is very important for us is Lithium. Argentina has the world’s second largest reservoir of Lithium, located in what is called the ‘Lithium Triangle’, shared by Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. Every projection shows that there is huge potential for collaborating in that sector as India is embarking in its policy of achieving 30 per cent EVs in a few years.
The third area is liquid gas. Located in the south of Argentina is the world’s second largest reservoirQ of shell gas, (after the largest one in the US). This area is being exploited now. That’s an area where there are many opportunities for Indian companies to participate in the whole process. From extracting to liquefying to transporting, there are many possibilities for cooperation.
India and Argentina – Road Ahead
Historically we have enjoyed good relations with India, but now we have reached a turning point. This stage is about stepping up the quality and the terms of our relations. In the last presidential visit, Argentina and India agreed to raise the relation to the level of Strategic Partnership, and for that we need not only increase the volume of trade but also enhance the quality of that trade. In that regard, we have been working in many high-tech sectors with India, such as nuclear technology (and Argentine company has designed and it is building a plant for the production of nuclear material used in the health sector), space technology, radars, defence, etc.
We are in a phase of globalisation, we are in a kind of parenthesis, where some events called ‘trade wars’ have been lurching over the stage for some time. So, the tendency is now to bring calmness back to the markets.
Being one of the leading agricultural producer and exporter, all these ‘wars’ have been impacting negatively on the price of the commodities, so our economy is hit indirectly. Let us hope that this has been a parenthesis, and that the protectionist pressures and instability will slow down and we will go back to where we were.
FICCI has an important role to play in developing relations between nations. At the government level, what we do is to develop the framework which should allow and enhance the interactions between the people of our countries. Then is the people themselves – the private sector – who will live up and enrich those interactions. FICCI represents exactly that, so FICCI’s role in developing the relations between the two countries is fundamental.
Daniel Chuburu is the Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to India. Previously he served as Argentine Ambassador in Mexico and Kenya. He is a career diplomat, who joined the Foreign Service of Argentina in 1981. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he holds a Degree in Economics and Business – Universidad Complutense of Madrid (Spain). He has a vast experience in economic and trade affairs.
Early in his career, Ambassador Chuburu was assigned to the Undersecretary of International Economic Relations (Officer of the Undersecretary) and posted to the Permanent Mission of the Argentine Republic to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, where he managed economic issues. He was the Head of Chancery at the Embassy of the Argentine Republic in Washington.
He was later assigned to the Directorate of Multilateral Economic Affairs and to the Undersecretary of International Economic Negotiations (Officer of the Undersecretary).
He has been member of the Argentine delegations to the following multilateral institutions: Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin (FONPLATA), Commission on transnational corporations, UNDP, UNEP, WTO, ILO, ITU, CIES/OAS, WHO, WIPO, UN-Habitat, ECOSOC, UNCTAD, SELA, G-77, African Union, World Oceanographic Institute, CELAC, UNASUR and SICA, CSA.
(First published in Business Digest edition in September 2019)