|Name of Event:
Developments in Latin American and Caribbean Region”
House, New Delhi
A seminar was organized by Indian Council of World Affairs
on 8th August, 2012 at Sapru House to discuss India’s
relationship with the Latin American and Caribbean countries,
in the context of the recent formation of the Community
of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The
main speaker for this occasion was H.E. Alfredo Moreno
Charme, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Chile,
which currently holds the Presidency of CELAC. He was
joined by other members of the Troika - H.E. Abelardo
Cueto Sosa, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, which
will assume the Presidency in 2013, and Mr. Ernesto
Serrano, Coordinator of Political and Bilateral Affairs
of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which held the
Presidency in 2011. The seminar was also addressed by
Shri M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West), Ministry of External
Affairs, Government of India.
Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, the Director General of ICWA
in his opening statement, underlined the importance
of the relationship between India and the Latin American
and Caribbean (LAC) countries. The region, though geographically
distant from India, has a significant presence of Indian
diaspora mainly in the Caribbean, and cordial political
relations, with no conflicts and clash of interests.
India had been always aware of the multi -dimensional
transformation unfolding there, with the LAC countries
showing great determination in overcoming the barriers
of size, divergence in economic and social development,
to achieve harmony, unity and integration at sub-regional
and regional level. Ambassador Bhatia pointed out that,
on many global issues, such as reform of UN institutions,
international financial crisis, climate change and terrorism
LAC and India are on the same page. There has been a
steady growth in the relationship between the two regions,
as evident in the bilateral trade between India and
LAC countries, which has grown from US$ 500 million
in 1990, to US$ 25billion in 2011. But we have much
potential to exploit, not only in trade and commerce,
but also in cultural and academic sectors, and people
to people contacts. ICWA has recently, taken the initiative
in enhancing awareness of LAC, with the launching of
a LAC portal on its website, and proposes to establish
a network of institutional contacts which will enable
scholars on both sides to refine research on each other´s
The Foreign Minister of Chile, in his address, and in
replies to subsequent interventions and questions from
the audience, outlined that CELAC, whose origin lies
in the Rio group of 70s, has just taken off, but has
been able solve the political differences between its
members, with an objective of an overall development
of the regions, which also began through a number of
sub-regional organizations, mainly of economic nature.
CELAC works for the strengthening of the political,
economic, social and cultural integration of the region.
It works through a process of consensus among all the
member countries and believes in the ideal of democracy,
while not interfering in the individual members internal
Mr. Ernesto Serrano of Venezuela expounded his government´s
view that CELAC stands for individual and national equality
and seeks to promote a multi-polar world, through solidarity
among like-minded countries such as India.
Ambassador Abelardo Cueto Sosa of Cuba felt CELAC sees
India as a leader in creating a world of mutual dependence
and cooperation, because of its history of support for
the struggle for independence.
Chilean Minister Alfredo Moreno referred to India as
one of the largest economies in the world, and a country
which is politically stable and therefore attractive
for LAC. India has a large consumer base with a large
middle class and its population will surpass that of
China’s by 2030. India has a large and growing
middle class market which is very attractive for the
LAC countries. To this end, Chile is expanding the terms
of its Preferential Tariff Agreement with India and
hopes to reach eventually a free trade arrangement.
He pointed to the gap between India´s participation
in LAC trade as compared with China, and called on India
to look at LAC more closely. LAC countries have huge
natural resources, particularly minerals, water and
energy. It is also the world´s largest exporter
of agricultural produce.
The Cuban Ambassador pointed out, India can offer CELAC
human capital. Cuba, on the other hand can offer good
investments and exchange in science and technologies.
Mr. Ernesto Serrano while echoing Ambassador Bhatia’s
views, pointed out that India and CELAC countries can
work jointly on various issues like international financial
crisis, trade, energy, eradication of hunger, poverty,
in food security and health and education.
Minister Moreno explained that LAC had not suffered
unduly during the recent financial crises because of
strong economic fundamentals. CELAC countries believe
in peace and through organizations like Union of South
American States (UNASUR) has coordinated defence and
security policy in the LAC region, while emphasising
economic and social development. The last major war
in the region was in 1930. All over the region today,
democracy and human rights are gaining in importance.
In recent years, there has been a positive growth in
the relationship between India and CELAC countries.
From 2003 to 2008 there has been a 50% increase in the
number of Indian embassies present in LAC countries.
In 2003 there were 7 LAC embassies but at present it
is 14. In respect of trade also there has been a substantial
growth, but still the trade between the two regions
is low. Trade with India consists of 1% the aggregate
trade of LAC. In contrast, China occupies a large share
in the trade with the LAC countries. In Chile, for example,
India accounts for 2.2% of the exports while China occupies
Shri M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West) expressed India´s
satisfaction that CELAC’s first overseas engagement
is with India. The recently concluded CELAC-India Dialogue
had identified several areas on the economy, science,
education, etc. We need to activate forums on these
sectors as well as contacts between and think tanks
on both sides. Political will is evident in the engagement
and India is looking forward to engaging with LAC. Venezuelan
Coordinator, while answering queries pointed out that
the strategic alliance between the two is the symbol
of the political will present in the region. The increase
in trade and commerce and with cultural exchanges, the
mediums of communications will also develop with more
air and sea connectivity between the two.
The LAC leaders on the seminar upheld the principles
of peace, equality and freedom of Jawaharlal Nehru and
wished to learn from India’s democracy, sovereignty
and its unity inspite of its diversity. The seminar
ended with a note on behalf of Ambassador Bhatia, who
termed it as a very satisfying discussion which underlined
the need of a constant effort of dialogue between the
two regions to further enrich the relationship between
the two and the huge turnout for the event only showed
the importance of Troika and scope for further dialogues
and exchanges of ideas.
The seminar, which took place just a day after the India
LAC Meet, was able to cover the major points which could
help in the strengthening the relationship between India
and LAC countries in the future.
The cardinal points of the seminar are as follows-
1. Troika, themselves took the initiative in organizing the Meet and the subsequent dialogues between the two regions.
2. The main speaker for this occasion was H.E. Alfredo Moreno Charme, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Chile, which currently holds the Presidency of CELAC. Through power point presentation he underlined the importance of commercial and cultural relationships between the two regions and how it can be beneficial for both.
3. He was joined by other members of the Troika - H.E. Abelardo Cueto Sosa, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, which will assume the Presidency in 2013, and Mr. Ernesto Serrano, Coordinator of Political and Bilateral Affairs of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, both of whom displayed their left leaning policies.
4. Shri M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, was also present at the seminar and pointed towards the growing political will in the region.
5. The large turnout at the seminar showcased the growing interests and importance of the region in India and it ended with the hope of further improving the relationship between India and the CELAC countries.
Report by: Ms.
Sohinee Basak, Research Intern, Indian Council of World