India expands its presence in the Latin America & Caribbean Region; New Indian missions start operations next month

The Indian Mission in Argentina was handling all the consular activities as well as other matters for the Indians in Paraguay. And all activities related to India and consular access in the Dominican Republic were handled by the Indian Mission in Cuba.

Paraguay is emerging as an interesting destination for India. Financial Express Online had visited the country with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in 2019.

The year 2022 will see the opening of two new missions in the Latin America and Caribbean Region (LAC) – Paraguay and Dominican Republic. Two new envoys Ambassador Yogeshwar Sangwan is posted to Paraguay and Ambassador Ramu Abbagani to the Dominican Republic, and both will join their new postings next year.

The Indian Mission in Argentina was handling all the consular activities as well as other matters for the Indians in Paraguay. And all activities related to India and consular access in the Dominican Republic were handled by the Indian Mission in Cuba.

In an earlier interaction with Financial Express Online, outgoing Ambassador from the Dominican Republic Frank Castellanos repeatedly talked about the need for more Indian missions in the region. He had set up the embassy of his country in New Delhi almost 14 years ago.

In 2006, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic had set up missions in New Delhi.

Why the need to open these new missions? 

Soon after the Union Cabinet approved the opening of these two missions starting 2022, an official government statement stated that the missions are being opened in pursuit of “our national priority of growth and development or ‘Sabka SaathSabka Vikas’.”

These missions in the region are expected to further enhance India’s presence as well as open new markets for companies and further improve exports of goods and services.

In an exclusive chat, Dominican Republic’s Ambassador David Emmanuel Puig Buchel, tells Financial Express Online “India’s opening its embassy in the Dominican Republic very soon, is a big milestone in our relation and I think that by deciding to open two of its three new missions in Latin America, India is sending a clear message of interest in a region. Secondly, another important element of this move is that India is recognizing the middle sized countries – which are important for geopolitical and economical reasons. If you think of the Caribbean region — India is in a way recognizing that the Dominican Republic is the main economy in the region.”

“India’s image is very positive. For all the support we have received from India during the COVID-19pandemic with medicine vaccines, we also bought the medical devices, which helped us to carry out our vaccination campaign,” the envoy of the Dominican Republic said.

“In Dominican Republic we want to see more of India. And I believe that to push a relationship forward we also need to create stronger bonds between our peoples, our institutions and our researchers. I think there are four areas of priorities for strengthening our relationship.”

 India and DR

The island nation that shares its borders with Haiti provides India a great opportunity to spread our culture, and heritage while at the same time bridging the cultural gap that India has with the Latin America and Caribbean region. While India does have a Diaspora connection with some Caribbean nations like Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago; for a Spanish speaking nation like the Dominican Republic, a cultural connection with India still remains elusive.

With the objective of greater dissemination of the Indian cultural wealth, its literature, art, music, yoga, and food; the embassy in the Dominican Republic should prove to be a prudent step. It would facilitate people to people connecting the region. At the same time this would bolster the Indian access to a new market and help strengthen trade relations in the region.

Both sides have to identify areas where the Indian companies can invest – these include, nano satellites, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy infrastructure projects, tourism, textiles, IT, Artificial Intelligence & Cyber security, vaccines, space exploration, tropical medicines, oceanography  and climate change.

“The opening of an Indian Embassy in Santo Domingo completes the diplomatic infrastructure between the two countries. Now we have the proper tools to work, to push forward and create new areas of interest in our relationship.

DR could also be an important logistics hub and could be used to connect the continent and Central America,” Ambassador Puig added.

There are two institutions of importance which are led by India– the CDRI and the International Solar Alliance, and DR is a member of both.

The bilateral trade has reached around USD eight hundred million per year before the pandemic, and it seems that it will be more this year. Gold represents again ninety five percent of that country’s export and is their main item for exports.

India and Paraguay

Paraguay is emerging as an interesting destination for India. Financial Express Online had visited the country with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu in 2019.

The small land-locked country in South America is looking to India for building up its infrastructure, security solutions to deal with illegal immigration and crimes, best practices in the space sector, health, education, renewable energy and much more.

Welcoming the opening of a new mission in his country, in an interaction with Financial Express Online, Ambassador of Paraguay to India, Fleming Raul Duarte Ramos said “This will help in deepening relations between the two countries as we have plans to partner with India on a wide range of industries.”

The country which is one of the member countries of MERCOSUR (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil) can also be a gateway for Indian companies to sell their goods to countries like Peru, Chile, Mexico and Colombia (Pacific Alliance).

In 2019, the leaders of both countries had during talks identified new areas for cooperation like – Space Co-operation, Medicines, IT, pharmaceuticals, education (especially teaching English) and much more.

For its own food security, contractual farming in land-linked Paraguay is one option that New Delhi can explore. India has already offered its new technologies to the farmers of that country as well as machinery that can help the farmers.

Asuncion, the capital city of that country could also be used by Indian carriers as their hub as the major airports in the region are very busy and full.

 India has also helped the country as a part of Vaccine Maitreyi by providing doses of Covaxin and Covishield. Paraguay is fast becoming a strong trade partner for India and India has become the seventh largest consumer of Paraguayan products. The South American nation has a stable and burgeoning military and defense sector that is rapidly becoming important for the Indian Defense sector. Paraguay perceives India as an opportunity for stable south-south cooperation and a reliable trade partner. India also sees Paraguay as a potential ally with whom to strengthen relations and grow as trade partners. 

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