Guatemala & India: 50 years old relationship growing stronger

October 21, 2021 5:37 PM

The situation caused by the current pandemic is the perfect thermometer needed to measure and mediate friendship among our people and governments.

Ambassador Giovani CastilloAmbassador Giovani Castillo

By Ambassador Giovani Castillo

As we approach the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with India, it is evident that the rapprochement at all levels, diplomatic, commercial and cultural, is in its prime.

At the diplomatic level, since 2018 the official visits by high-ranking Indian officials to Guatemala have increased. A reality that seemed far-fetched when in 2015 the Minister of State visited the country regarding External Affairs. In May of 2018, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu travelled to Guatemala for an official visit. In May of 2021, the second meeting of the Political Consultation Mechanism — FOC Meetings — were held virtually with the participation of Secretary East Madam Riva Ganguly and Vice Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez. In July of the same year the Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan travelled for meetings with the Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo, including a courtesy visit to President Alejandro Giammattei.

These high-end meetings led to the achievement of important agreements beneficial to respective countries.

The situation caused by the current pandemic is the perfect thermometer needed to measure and mediate friendship among our people and governments. Both foreign ministers have spoken via call on more than one occasion, one of the chief results of the conversations have been a donation of a large batch of Covishield vaccine by India to Guatemala.

From a trade and investment lens, the sectors are yet to be impacted in a positive manner. Though it is a fact that there are Indian companies marketing their products successfully in Guatemala. The figures recorded during the financial year 2020-2021 demonstrate resilience in relations during the pandemic. Our bilateral trade which was $314.27 million during 2019-2020 grew by 12.04% to USD353.11 million in the year 2020-2021.

In the investment arena, it is worth noting that Guatemala under the mantra ”Guatemala No Se Detiene” (Guatemala does not stop) has generated vital strategies that seek to attract entrepreneurs from all over the world to invest in the region under the concept of Nearshoring, to which India is no exception.

A transformational plan has been developed in Guatemala and it focuses on two main action-points. First is promoting an unprecedented degree of public-private partnership that results in an integrative strategy to provide impetus to a comprehensive economic development. Second is reactivating and accelerating the growth of the economy and creating opportunities in the present decade.

Of these 1.5 million jobs correspond to the increase in exports of 20 products that we have proven to be good at and enhance the investment climate through Leapfrogging to Specialized sectors. The other 1 million jobs correspond to the investment in infrastructure. The generation of 2.5 million jobs, we believe, is the foundation for strengthening the social contract in Guatemala, enabling inclusive economic growth and contributing towards the holistic advancement of the nation.

Under the mentioned concept, strategic alliances and/or making investments in Guatemala forms the central theme as it presents to the investors a strong foothold in significant world markets. By establishing their companies in Guatemala, they will be able to access the grand markets of the United States with 525 million consumers, the European Union with 400 million and Central America with 40 million. An additional advantage for the investors include using tools that grant strategy and Free Trade Agreements, the ones that Guatemala has with other countries.

Under the umbrella of the strategy “Guatemala no se detiene” we have identified 4 sectors where we can bet on turning Guatemala into a regional hub. Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, Electronic Devices manufacturing and Company Services.

In some of the mentioned sectors, Indian companies are already present such as pharmaceuticals, BPO + ITO sector. Tata Consultancy Services has announced its investment in the latter.

At the cultural level, several activities have been conducted both by the Embassy of Guatemala in India and by the Embassy of India in Guatemala. Some of which encompass Gastronomic festivals, exhibitions of photography and paintings by Guatemalan artists, participation in Film Festivals. One of paramount significance being the Kolkata International Film Festival where the movie “La Llorona” by director Jayro Bustamante was screened which was made with the Golden Tiger. Such events have brought our countries closer.

Another noteworthy activity was the translation of Guatemalan Chef Euda Morales book “Similarities and differences of Indian Gastronomy with Latin American Gastronomy” into Bengali, presented at the Kolkata International Book Fair of which Guatemala was the focal country.

In the coming year, we hope for an active participation in cultural festivals organized by ICCR, an important year without a doubt as it will be a major milestone in the diplomatic relations of Guatemala and India.

(The author is Ambassador of Guatemala in India. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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