India and Argentina need to look for increased cooperation beyond exports and market access to each other products

Expressing happiness that India-Argentina Joint Trade Committee could meet last month after a gap of almost three decades, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar maintained that despite some upswing in the two-way bilateral trade, “there remains unexplored complementarities and untapped potential for increasing engagement in agriculture, mining and minerals, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and automotive.”

He termed the recent formation of an India-Argentina Business Council in Buenos Aires as a commendable initiative. The External Affairs Minister was speaking at the ‘India and Argentina in the New World Order: Dialogue among Indian and Argentine Think Tanks’ on Friday.

Maintaining that India and Argentina are agricultural powerhouses in their respective regions, he said “Our cooperation in this area can extend beyond increasing exports and market access to each other’s products, to collaboration in edible oils, agricultural machinery and fertilizers.”

He also said Argentina can be an important partner for India’s energy security, especially in the oil and gas sector. With Argentina joining the International Solar Alliance in 2019, an important first step was taken for cooperation in renewable energy.

The large reserves of minerals, including strategic minerals like lithium in Argentina, complement the large appetite for metals and minerals across various sectors in India, including crucial ones like e-vehicles, the EAM said.

Highlighting India’s role in the health and pharmaceutical sector during the pandemic, he said, “as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, India was able to provide assured supplies of high quality pharma products in difficult circumstances, in addition to gifting life-saving medicines and essential protective gear to around 150 countries (including to 27 in the Latin America and Caribbean region).”

While India granted special exemptions to Argentina on exports of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol, the EAM added, Argentina reciprocated by allowing the export of ventilators to India.

Besides, health another sector which came into focus during the pandemic was the IT sector, an area where India has demonstrated its expertise, including in large scale use of ICT applications for governance and promoting inclusive growth.

“This is an area with tremendous potential for collaboration, especially in light of the focus on virtual interactions in the digitization of work,” Jaishankar said.

Emphasizing that cultural contacts and people to people linkages between the two countries go back to the last century, the EAM said, “People of Argentina have great admiration for Indian culture, philosophy and spirituality. Argentina also holds a special place in India’s collective cultural consciousness. Records indicate the presence of an Indian community in the province of Jujuy in Northern Argentina as early as 1870s.”

“The visit of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in 1924 and his connections to Argentina are well-known. Interest in Indian culture and philosophy has been further promoted by the work of Argentine Indologists such as Maria Rene Cura and Dr. Fernando Tola. The presence of highest per capita yoga practitioners and a plethora of yoga schools in Argentina is a statement in itself,” he added.

Talking about cooperation between the two countries in a number of multilateral and international fora, from the United Nations, to G20 and WTO, he said, “We share values and common interests on global issues ranging from terrorism, climate change, sustainable development, non-aligned movement, women’s issues, human rights, and non-proliferation.,”

“It is noteworthy that Argentina has issued a ‘Special Declaration to Fight Terrorism’ with India in 2019, the only country in the region to do so. We are among the founding members of G20 and are strong believers of South-South Cooperation with a shared interest in reform of the multilateral bodies,” he added.