India-Mexico are working towards a Strategic Partnership, says Manpreet Vohra, India’s envoy to Mexico

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August 5, 2020 2:30 PM

“During the last Foreign Office Consultations in October 2019, new areas of co-operation ranging from defense to innovation and technology were identified by India and Mexico,” Ambassador Manpreet Vohra, tells Financial Express Online.

Manpreet Vohra,india mexico ties,  Manpreet Vohra,india mexico bilateral relations, Mexico City, india mexico trade ties, defence news, UN Security Council, ISROThe relationship between the two countries is 70 years old and to celebrate this certain important certain buildings in Mexico City were illuminated with Indian colors. (Photo Credit: Indian Embassy in Mexico)

A roadmap for enhancing the relationship to a Strategic Partnership is being charted out presently between India and Mexico and new areas of cooperation have been identified. Both countries have identified new areas to expand their cooperation which includes the energy sector and other important metals and minerals as well.

“During the last Foreign Office Consultations in October 2019, new areas of co-operation ranging from defense to innovation and technology were identified by India and Mexico,” Ambassador Manpreet Vohra, tells Financial Express Online.

The relationship between the two countries is 70 years old and to celebrate this certain important certain buildings in Mexico City were illuminated with Indian colors including the Senate building of the Mexican Parliament, Monumento a Alvaro Obregón, Fuente de Petroleos and Acueducto Avenida Chapultepec. Following are excerpts from an interaction with Ambassador Vohra.

What’s the bilateral trade between the two countries now?

Trade growth has been quite rapid in recent years. Mexico is now India’s largest trade partner in Latin America and second in the entire Americas after USA. For Mexico, India became its ninth largest trading partner in 2018. Bilateral trade was US$9.33 billion in 2019 (though it had reached US$10.15 billion in 2018). India exported goods worth US$ 5.18 billion to Mexico; while imports were US$ 4.14 billion. The trade balance has remained in India’s favour for some time now.

Are IT companies setting their base since Trump administration has been cutting down on the visas? Which Indian companies have moved their base there and how are they supporting local population?

All major Indian IT companies already conduct substantial operations in and from Mexico. These include TCS, Infosys, Wipro and many others. They have created thousands of high-quality local jobs here and some have also teamed up with Mexican technical universities to upgrade the caliber of IT students studying there. All undertake useful CSR activities also. For a variety of powerful reasons, therefore, they and are greatly valued by the local governments for their contribution. While we we have not seen any immediate shift of companies or professionals from the USA to Mexico as a result of the new policy of the Trump Administration, it is certainly possible that this may happen over the coming months.

What kind of cooperation is there in the agricultural sector, especially in the agro products?

In 1960s, India’s Green Revolution was greatly assisted by the high-yielding hybrid wheat seed, Sonora, created by Norman Borlaug and his team at CIMMYT, Mexico. A large number of Indians still work at CIMMYT and contribute to the research there. As far as trade in agro products is concerned, this remains somewhat limited at present. In 2019, seeds of sweet chilies, bell pepper, tomatoes and pumpkin worth US$18 million, essential oils worth US$7.9 million, cumin seeds worth US$4 million, sesame seeds worth US$3.6 million, and menthol worth US$2.5 million were imported by Mexico from India. India at present is not importing any significant amount of agricultural products from Mexico. However, both countries wish to trade more and are negotiating market access for agro products of their interest.

In the aerospace sector – is there anything happening between the two countries?

In early 2018, Jet Airways and AeroMexico had signed a code sharing agreement which could have benefited many travelers on both sides but the agreement could not be finalized. Also, Air India has approached AeroMexico for a similar arrangement. The Covid-19 pandemic and the current difficult situation has made it difficult for any new commitments to be finalized. However, the importance of improved connectivity is well appreciated by both countries.

Space cooperation is another sector – any update?

India and Mexico signed a Memorandum of Understanding on space cooperation in 2014, covering the areas of remote sensing, satellite communications and peaceful use of outer space. Talks are going on between the respective space agencies (Indian Space Research Organisation and AEM) to upgrade this further and include joint research and innovation. Last year, two officials from AEM were provided training in remote sensing and monitoring forest fires by ISRO in India.

India was the country partner in the book fair last year – any forward movement there?

India’s participation as the Guest of Honour Country at the Guadalajara Book Fair 2019 was very successful. We had a strong delegation of more than 100 authors, academicians, publishing houses, experts and creative writers attending the Book Fair with a variety of talks, seminars and book discussions. Indian literature and artistic heritage were applauded by the Mexican government and public. Publishers were able to establish linkages and possible commercial collaborations. National Book Trust of India and Mexican authorities were able to discuss cooperation in further translation and publication of literature from both countries. A number of Indian books translated into Spanish are being published here in Mexico as a part of India’s participation as Guest of Honour Country. A Forum of Rectors from Universities of both countries was established in October 2019 and an Indian delegation visited Mexico during the Book Fair to discuss useful academic exchanges and collaboration with their Mexican counterparts.

Any other area where the two sides are looking to work together?

India and Mexico also look forward to working together closely in the UN Security Council during their membership of the Council in 2021-2022.

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