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Remarks by External Affairs Minister at Dinner for Latin American Dignitaries​ (October 08, 2015 )

October 09, 2015

Hon'ble Vice President of Costa Rica,
Hon'ble Foreign Minister of Uruguay,
Hon’ble Ministers from Costa Rica, Cuba,
Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua,
Ambassadors and distinguished guests,


I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you and appreciate your efforts in visiting India. Your countries are on the other side of the globe from us but you are close to our hearts.

At the outset, I would like to commiserate with the friendly people of Guatemala for the tragic loss of lives and property in landslides there. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.


Our relations with LAC region have traditionally been warm and friendly. Over the last few years, these have intensified in terms of political engagements as well as trade and commercial interactions.

Our people-to-people contacts are thriving and I see a great desire among the people of our countries to know about each other and strengthen our relations.

This is natural as India and LAC countries share the values of democracy, equality and justice. We have worked together as developing countries overcoming similar challenges and obstacles. Today our countries are engaged in the task of achieving rapid economic growth with social inclusion that benefits our respective societies. Most importantly, we have tremendous stake in each other's progress and future.


Our trade with the Latin American and Caribbean region has shown impressive growth in the recent past and today stands at about 46 billion dollars.

Considering the fact that our trade was only 2 billion dollars in 2000, this marks a phenomenal growth in our bilateral trade with the region.

We have Preferential Trade Agreement with MERCOSUR and with Chile. Our investment is estimated to be around 20 billion dollars, principally in IT sector, automobile parts, mining and hydrocarbons.

While the figures I have quoted may seem impressive, I firmly believe that the level of trade and investment between India and LAC countries is not commensurate with the potential that exists.

The Latin American region offers a market for Indian products such as pharmaceuticals, leather, automobile parts, engineering goods, textile, Information Technology among others. On the other hand, the LAC region offers oil and gas, minerals and metals, cereals, pulses, oil seeds, soya, fresh fruits and many other products.

It is clear that our economies complement each other. We must find ways to fully utilize the opportunities that exist between us as a result of these complementarities. Geographical distance should not be a barrier in this. especially in the age of globalization and new technology.


Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, India has outlined an ambitious "Make in India” programme aimed at turning India into a manufacturing and export hub. We have also started a number of other initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, 100 Smart Cities project and Clean Ganga Mission. All these provide opportunities for your countries to partner us. As we go along, these schemes could also provide good learning for developing countries from India’s experience.


This year has specifically been significant in view of the fact that India had interaction at Ministerial level with the three major regional groupings, namely, CELAC, SICA and CARICOM. Last week, I had the opportunity to interact with the Foreign Ministers of CARICOM countries and CELAC Quartet Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of UNGA in New York.

We were able to review our political relations as well as our economic and commercial ties. It is important for us to maintain regular high-level contacts in order to enhance our cooperation in the coming years.


I do know that it is the India-LAC Conclave organized by CII that has brought you to India today. The focus of your visits is therefore economics and commerce. But I do wish to briefly mention three other issues.

First, terrorism continues to pose the gravest threats to international peace and security. We must take resolute steps to counter terrorism. In this regard we seek your support for Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN.

Second, climate change is a major global issue confronting us. We have recently announced our INDCs and we hope that a comprehensive, balanced and equitable agreement will be reached at COP-21 in Paris later this year.

Third, the reform of the Security Council and its expansion in both permanent and non-permanent categories is an imperative today. Last UNGA adopted a decision to carry forward to the 70th session the text presented by its President. Thus after more than two decades of discussions, we can now commence text-based negotiations. We look forward to securing concrete outcomes this year.


I hope that you have productive discussions at the India-LAC Conclave and that your visit results in many new business opportunities between India and your region. I also wish to commend CII for organising this Conclave.

Let me conclude by wishing you all a pleasant stay in India.

Thank you.


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