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LAC Region to Deepen Trade Ties with Maharashtra

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MUMBAI, INDIA - World Trade Centre (WTC) Mumbai, All India Association of Industries (AIAI) and GRULAC-India together organized the India-Latin America & Caribbean Partnership Conclave on Trade and Investment, first time in Mumbai, Maharashtra at WTC Mumbai on June 15, 2017. Chief Guest Mr. Deepak Kesarkar, Hon’ble Minister of State, Home (Rural), Finance and Planning, Government of Maharashtra while delivering the keynote address said, “The landmark achievement of Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries in alleviating poverty from 47% to 25% between 2000 and 2014 holds great lesson for India. Government of Maharashtra is implementing livelihood mission to address the issue of poverty in the state and is keen to learn the technologies and methodologies of the LAC countries in poverty alleviation”.
The Minister assured that he would facilitate air connectivity with LAC countries very soon to improve bilateral business exchange and enhance people-to-people contact.

Mr. Kesarkar said, “Our Hon’ble Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis has focused on improving ease of doing business in Maharashtra. Companies from LAC can explore investment opportunities in Maharashtra in sectors such as smart cities, renewable energy, food processing, pharmaceuticals, skill development etc.”.

Mr. Ankan Banerjee, Director (LAC), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India said, ”India’s relationship with LAC is based on shared values and long-term partnership. Government of India has made constant efforts to strengthen engagement with Latin American countries in the last 2-3 years. In the coming years, we will open embassies in at least four LAC countries. Presently, India is not a major trade and investment partner of LAC, going forward there is tremendous potential to strengthen co-operation in agriculture, food processing, energy, pharmaceuticals, among others. India is also strengthening its cultural co-operation with LAC in segments such as joint film production, sports, yoga, traditional system of medicines etc. Government of India is expediting the process of finalizing its preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Peru.”

Mr. K.V. Nagi Reddy, Director, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India remarked,” There is abundant opportunity to explore new markets and new horizons in LAC countries. The industry bodies and chambers of commerce must take advantage of the vibrant condition and the existing trade agreements to promote bilateral trade and investment. India is working with Mercosur countries to expand the scope of the existing preferential trade agreements (PTA) to include 90% of tariff lines, from the present 65-70%. I urge the Indian industry to take advantage of the zero-duty benefit with Chile on more than 500 tariff lines. Indian companies can explore business opportunities in CARICOM countries in sectors such as low-cost housing, agriculture and renewable energy. India is also exploring a trade agreement with Ecuador. The Central American Integration System (CISA) has signed a free trade agreement with North America. Therefore, India can consider countries in CISA as a gateway to its entry into the North American countries.”

H. E. Ms. Monica Lanzetta, Ambassador, Embassy of Colombia said, “I am happy to note that this maiden conclave in Maharashtra has received overwhelming response from 18 LAC countries. This event is a timely opportunity to make significant move in diversifying our trade basket and promoting sustainable investment between India and LAC countries. LAC countries have received investment worth USD 12 billion from around 100 Indian companies in recent years. However, India-LAC relationship is still nascent. In a significant move to strengthen bilateral co-operation, India and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) decided to set up a Permanent Mechanism of Political Dialogue and Cooperation in September 2016. This mechanism aims to strengthen trade and investment, co-operate in science and technology, culture, education and climate change, to name a few.”

Mr. Vijay Kalantri, President, All India Association of Industries and Vice Chairman, World Trade Centre Mumbai said, ”This is the first-ever initiative in Maharashtra and we are planning to make it an annual event. India’s bilateral trade with LAC countries currently stands at USD 46 billion and it has the potential to reach USD 100 billion in the next five years. In order to realize this goal, Ministry of External Affairs is working on strengthening air connectivity and maritime transport between India and LAC. Government must address all the hindrances and irritants in bilateral economic ties through measures such as signing free trade agreement and introducing single visa for all LAC countries. Companies in Maharashtra must invest in LAC countries in areas such as agri-commodities, pharmaceuticals, automobile & engineering, information technology etc.”.

Mr. Kalantri further informed that WTC Mumbai is planning to set up a dedicated desk to promote trade and investment between India and LAC countries. In future, WTC Mumbai and AIAI are also planning to host a similar event to promote bilateral relationship with Africa in September 2017, Mr. Kalantri added.

As part of the event, senior diplomatic officials of LAC countries in India shared insightful presentations on their regional trading blocs. H.E. Mr. Mentor Villagomez, Ambassador, Embassy of Ecuador in India made presentation on Comunidad Andina. H.E. Mr. David Pollard, High Commissioner, High Commission of Guyana in India on CARICOM, Mr. Alejandra Zothner Meyer, Consul General of Argentina on MERCOSUR, H.E. Mr. Andres Barbe, Ambassador, Embassy of Chile in India on Pacific Alliance, and H.E. Ms. Mariela Cruz, Ambassador, Embassy of Costa Rica in India on SICA (Central American Integration System).
The event was well attended by more than 250 participants, including business delegates, government officials, representatives of industry bodies and chambers of commerce from various sectors. WTC Mumbai and AIAI together organized more than 500 pre-determined Business to Business Meetings during the Conclave.

In Photo: Mr. Vijay Kalantri presenting a memento to Mr. Deepak Kesarkar.