What to expect from Jaishankar’s visit to South America?

Jaishankar’s tour of South America is aimed at addressing the issues of food and energy security, oil marketing and the extension of the Fixed Preference Agreement between India and MERCOSUR. According to various sources, India will seek tariff improvements on oils and progress with the acquisition of lithium for use in its solar panels and batteries.

What to expect from Jaishankar’s visit to South America?
Jaishankar's tour of South America is aimed at addressing the issues of food and energy security, oil marketing and the extension of the Fixed Preference Agreement between India and MERCOSUR.

By Sabrina Victoria Olivera

A few days ago, it was announced that the Foreign Minister of the Republic of India, S Jaishankar, will visit Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina in the August 22 week. The visit is a demonstration of the South Asian country’s willingness to deploy South-South cooperation in Latin America.

Although the tour will begin in Brazil, it should be noted that on December 30, 2020, the Government of India approved the opening of a permanent diplomatic mission in Asuncion, which until then was under the orbit of the Embassy of India based in Argentina. Accordingly, Jaishankar will officially inaugurate the Embassy in Paraguay, which was finally established in early 2022. A business delegation is also expected to formally visit the country in September.

Jaishankar’s tour of South America is aimed at addressing the issues of food and energy security, oil marketing and the extension of the Fixed Preference Agreement between India and MERCOSUR. According to various sources, India will seek tariff improvements on oils and progress with the acquisition of lithium for use in its solar panels and batteries. Regarding the latter’s natural resource, there is an exploitation agreement between the Indian consortium KABIL and the Jujuy-based company JEMSE. The Indian company is also seeking to approach the province of Catamarca.

Also on the agenda are security and defence, nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, education and of course, the discussion on the implications of climate change. During his stay in South America, the Indian foreign minister will hold meetings with his counterparts and leaders from different sectors.

Brazil and Argentina are undoubtedly strategic partners for India and Jaishankar will seek to strengthen this relationship. Particularly with Argentina, strategic partnership status was achieved during Mauricio Macri’s presidential visit to India in February 2019, in response to Modi’s invitation when he visited Buenos Aires for the organisation of the G20 in November last year.

Read More: The dilemma of including Argentina in BRICS

In this regard, it is worth noting that Argentina and India share a common language in that they are two countries with democratic governments, that exhibit great commercial potential, that belong – among other international forums – to the G-20 (whose presidency in 2023 will be held by India) and that their trade relations are on the rise. The latter was particularly noticeable in the 2021 fiscal year, when India became Argentina’s fourth largest trading partner. At present, with Fernández holding the presidency of CELAC, it could be said that India is moving closer to the Latin American region as a whole.

Notwithstanding the above, Jaishankar’s mission is in addition to the two previous meetings between Indian and Argentine officials that took place in 2022. In April, Minister Santiago Cafiero participated in the Raisina Dialogue event, organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), held in New Delhi. This trip had three main axes: firstly, meetings were held with high-level officials and businessmen; secondly, visits to institutions were organised and lastly, the Commission on the Malvinas issue was launched, in which India made its support for Argentina’s sovereignty claim clear.

Cafiero’s visit was well received by India for several reasons. Fundamentally, trade opportunities were discussed, given that the trade balance between the two countries is mainly concentrated on soybean oil. Given that diversification is being sought, Cafiero announced the export of soya flour, in addition to the previous year’s export of yerba mate. Moreover, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India has been concerned about edible oils, forcing it to forge links to secure supplies, so Cafiero’s trip to India was seen as a very good sign.

India aims to balance the trade balance, which is in Argentina’s surplus, prompting talks on the technology and services sector. In Indonesia, during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Cafiero and Jaishankar held their second meeting in 2022, in which they ratified the points noted above.

In addition to such meetings between the foreign ministers, there was also a meeting between Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G7 meeting in Germany last June. According to the official Argentinean communiqué, the bilateral meeting was aimed at political and economic cooperation and the search to consolidate regional and global agreements. In fact, they highlighted the reciprocal increase in trade flows and once again emphasised the need to diversify exports.

Read More: G7 and transforming transportation

It was pointed out that Argentine products such as soybean meal and sunflower oil have succeeded in entering the Indian market. In addition, at the time of the meeting, Fernández ratified to Modi the intention of Argentina being part of the BRICS.

It is always an optimistic gesture when two countries with shared interests and concerns continue to deepen their bilateral relations. From the encounters that took place during 2022, there could be a greater significance and mutual recognition of the benefits of the rapprochement between India and Argentina.

The author is Master and PhD candidate in International Relations, Universidad del Salvador, Argentina. Specialist in Economics and Business with Asia Pacific and India, Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Argentina. She is Lawyer with specialisation in International Public Law, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Coordinator of the Working Group on South Asia of the Asian Affairs Committee of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Fellow of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme during 2018 and member of the Study Group on India and Southeast Asia of the National University of Rosario (GEIRSA)..

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