Source: Government of India
2. Let me begin by commending the efforts of all the institutions that have participated in today’s event, led by RIS on the Indian side and CIPPEC on the Argentine side. A shared space for our leading think tanks to deliberate upon the current status and future of the relations between our two friendly nations, is a welcome initiative.
3. In today’s discussions, we have heard an exhaustive analysis of the current status of the bilateral relationship between the two Strategic Partners, as well as the roles envisaged for them in the new world order. Our ties are based on common principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for territorial integrity, as well as a shared openness to new thoughts and ideas. Over the seven decades of our cooperation, there has been an increasing awareness of our similarities, as well as the need to engage more deeply.
4. Recent years have witnessed a notable upswing in high level interactions and considerable progress across several sectors. As vibrant democracies, we have also nurtured strong bonds of friendship between our Parliaments. In 2019, the bilateral cooperation was elevated to a Strategic Partnership, when we also commemorated 70 years of our diplomatic relationship.
5. In the last ten years, we have witnessed bilateral trade more than doubling to over $ 3 b. This trend has continued this year, undeterred by the pandemic and the consequent disruptions. The robust economic relationship is further bolstered by the presence of several Indian companies in Argentina and vice versa. I am happy to note that the Joint Trade Committee held a meeting last month, after a gap of almost three decades. The recent formation of an India-Argentina Business Council in Buenos Aires is also a commendable initiative. However, there remains unexplored complementarities and untapped potential for increasing engagement in agriculture, mining and minerals, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and automotives.
6. Our countries are agricultural powerhouses in their respective regions. 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. 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, complements the large appetite for metals and minerals across various sectors in India, including crucial ones like e-vehicles.
7. The health and pharmaceutical sector has come in the spotlight recently in the context of the pandemic. 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, Argentina reciprocated by allowing the export of ventilators to India.
8. Another sector which came into focus during the pandemic is 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.
9. Cultural contacts and people to people linkages between our countries go back to the last century. I am aware that the 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 Ms. 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.
10. Our nations cooperate in a number of multilateral and international fora, from the United Nations, to G20 and WTO. 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.
Excellencies and friends,
11. We are living through an unprecedented and devastating global crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Even as countries continue to grapple with its health, economic and other effects, a world order already in transition has been further complicated. We believe that cooperation, and not competition should be the basis of international relations.
12. Our response to the current global uncertainty is reflected in the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (or self-reliant India), articulated by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is a vision of “a self-reliant India which is also a reliable friend for the world”. It highlights collaboration and complementarities in an environment of global recovery and reform. It envisages the harmonizing of domestic production and consumption with global supply chains as well as promotion of international trade and commerce. Argentina can be an important partner for India with its abundant agricultural production, reserves of strategic minerals, large energy resources and growing innovation. Our countries must explore increasing bilateral trade and economic collaboration. This will make us a more important player in the availability of goods and services and in the flow of talent.
13. Next year, India will begin its tenure as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council. We will continue to speak for the developing world and the Global South, as well as the values and ideas we ourselves represent. In the larger global perspective, our countries must continue to champion multi-polarity and reformed multilateralism for a rule-based and transparent world order.
14. Let me conclude by thanking RIS, CIPPEC and Embassy of India in Argentina for hosting this event. I applaud the efforts by the organizers to undertake this digital interaction. It shows how well we have adjusted to this changing world.
15. My best wishes to Foreign Minister Sola whom I hope to meet in person at the earliest opportunity.
Muchas Gracias. Thank you. Dhanyawad.