Bridging continental distance with a leap of strategic imagination, India and Brazil, the Latin American giant, scripted a new chapter in their multifaceted ties by launching a plan of action to provide more heft to their strategic partnership and signing 15 agreements straddling diverse areas, including trade, energy and innovation.
On a sunny wintry afternoon in the Indian capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazil’s President Jair Messias Bolsonaro took a big-picture view of what the two large developing companies, with a combined GDP of around $5 trillion and 1.5 billion people, can do together to spur their respective development and economic resurgence. The wide-ranging talks culminated in a new template of broad-basing strategic ties and accelerating cooperation across the spectrum, including defence and security, trade and commerce, agriculture, civil aviation, energy, environment, health and innovation.
The major takeaway was the adoption of the Action Plan to strengthen the strategic partnership, which outlines action in all spheres of cooperation, including (a) Political and Strategic Coordination; (b) Trade & Commerce, Investments, Agriculture, Civil Aviation and Energy; (c) Science, Technology and Innovation; Space Cooperation; Environment and Technical Cooperation; Health; (d) Defence and Security; (e) Culture and Education; and (f) Consular Issues, Social Security and Legal Cooperation.
Looking ahead, the two sides agreed to enhance collaboration between their defence industrial bases and work together to conclude an agreement in combating international terrorism and transnational organised crime. The two sides also decided to strengthen established institutional mechanisms and promote coordination on bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest based on the principles of equality and trust.
Encapsulating the historic importance of substantive outcomes for transforming India-Brazil ties, PM Modi said: “Your visit to India has opened a new chapter in ties between India and Brazil.” Describing Brazil as a valuable partner in India’s economic growth, Mr Modi underlined both the countries have been on the same page on various global issues and exuded confidence that the ties will strengthen further. “Despite geographical distance, both India and Brazil are together on various global issues as there is convergence in our views,” Mr Modi said.
In a sign of deepening strategic trust, President Bolsonaro reiterated his country’s support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
In a gesture reserved for only special friends of India, India has invited President Bolsonaro to be Chief Guest at the country’s Republic Day celebrations. This is the first time in many years that a leader from Latin America has been invited for India’s national day festivities, which underscores the growing importance of the region in India’s foreign policy calculus.
Upscaling economic ties figured prominently on the agenda, with the two sides setting the target of nearly doubling bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2022.
Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) region. The Brazil opportunity is finding a greater traction among Indian investors. Two-way investment is rising, with Indian companies investing more in Brazil comparatively than the other way around. With Bazil’s proven record as an energy power, the two countries are planning to collaborate in research and development of second-generation biofuels.
In 2018 India was the 11th biggest exporter to Brazil and 10th biggest importer from Brazil. While the Brazilian companies have invested in automobiles, IT, mining, energy, biofuels, footwear sectors in India, the Indian companies have invested in diverse sectors, including IT, Pharmaceutical, energy, agri-business, mining, engineering and automobiles.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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