India on a diplomatic spree! To expand its footprints in South America with opening of new missions in 2021

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Updated: Dec 31, 2020 3:42 PM

The decision to open Indian missions next year in South America and in Europe (Estonia) was taken on Wednesday (Dec 30, 2020) at the Cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

South America, defenceOpening Indian mission in Paraguay was discussed when Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu had visited that country in March 2019.

After a long wait, India has decided to open its missions in two South American nations – Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. The decision to open Indian missions next year in South America and in Europe (Estonia) was taken on Wednesday (Dec 30, 2020) at the Cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

How will these missions help?

Besides expanding India’s presence in South America, as well as in Europe, these missions play a critical role in bilateral trade, investments and economic engagements. These missions will also help in further enhancing people to people contacts and help in bolstering political outreach.

Opening of new missions in 2021 is also in line with India’s focus on ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’.

The missions, especially in South American countries, will help in providing market access for Indian companies and the export of goods and services.

In an earlier interaction with Financial Express Online, Dean of Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Hans Dannenberg Castellanos had said, “We hope 2021 would be the year of Latin America and also hopefully India will open more embassies in the region.”

He has personally been making several representations to the Indian government urging them to open more missions in the region.

India is playing a very major role in the world, says Ambassador Hans Dannenberg Castellanos

India & Paraguay

Opening Indian mission in Paraguay was discussed when Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu had visited that country in March 2019.

At the end of his visit, speaking to Financial Express Online, a senior officer who wished to remain anonymous had confirmed that the Indian government was considering opening an embassy in Paraguay. According to the senior officer quoted above “There were few formalities which were in the process of being completed and the embassy will be opened very soon in Asuncion, Paraguay.”

Paraguay already has a mission in New Delhi.

Trade is one of the main drivers of the bilateral relations between India and Paraguay which has witnessed a ten-fold increase over the last ten years. And, Brand India in the automobile sector has a strong presence in Paraguay.

Financial Express Online had during the Vice President’s visited reported that Soyabean oil accounts for over almost 90 per cent of Paraguay‘s exports to India and other items that come from there include iron and steel; aluminium; oils and resinoids. Carmenta (Joint Venture of Alok Master Batches Ltd of India and Grupo Barr of Paraguay); Royal Enfield; Bajaj Motors; and Tata Motors.

As has been reported earlier, India offers an additional 10 per cent margin of preference only to Paraguay for a Tariff Rate Quota of imports of crude soybean oil up to 30000 MT/year.

And India exports steel, plastics, chemicals, vehicles and auto parts.

Under the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, aid has been given for a project in Paraguay titled Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy and Sexual Abuse/ Violence in Girls and Adolescents from an Intersectoral Approach has been approved. It has a budget of $ 600,000, and the duration of the project is 36 months.

Paraguay is also a member of MERCOSUR (a South American Customs’ Union currently made up of Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay). And has been a great supporter in the increased integration of the trade bloc. It is also a member of CELAC (Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States), OAS (Organization of American States) and an observer in NAM (Non-Aligned Movement).

India & Dominican Republic

For a long time Ambassador Castellanos of the Dominican Republic to India has been trying to get an Indian mission in Santo Domingo. He has finally succeeded. In 2021, an Indian embassy will be opened in a small Caribbean island nation. All formalities are in the process of being completed. He is also trying to get his newly elected President to visit India at the earliest.

He has also set a target of USD one billion for the Indian-Dominican trade which is has gone up from a mere USD 24.7 million dollars in 2004-5 to USD 782 million in 2018-19. India is the largest market for that country’s gold. Rum, Coffee, Cigars are now easily available in India.

Similarly, exports from India to that country has touched USD 215 million in 2018-19 from USD 24.7 million in 2004-5. Pharmaceuticals and vehicles are the main exports of India to DR.

Corona wins the Presidential elections of Dominican Republic

More missions in the region?

As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, India has only 14 embassies out of the 33 countries in the LatAm region. “Diplomats from several countries including El Salvador, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Uruguay and others have been meeting with the senior officers in the Ministry of External Affairs. The focus of the discussions has been opening Indian missions in their respective countries, on a reciprocal basis.”

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