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Potential Vande Bharat exports can fast-track Chile rail upgrade: envoy Angulo

Santiago is looking at a tie-up with New Delhi in mining sector, Chile ambassador to India Juan Angulo says

Potential Vande Bharat exports can fast-track Chile rail upgrade: envoy Angulo
[Source photo: Chile Ministry of Foreign Affairs]

India’s initiative to export Vande Bharat trains presents an opportunity for potential collaboration between Chile and India in the field of advanced transportation technologies, Juan Angulo, Chile’s ambassador to India, said in an interview.

A major producer of copper, Chile is looking at potential for collaboration with India in the mining and minerals sector, Angulo said.

The country, which also holds significant deposits of lithium, is in talks with Indian firms as it moves to renegotiate existing mining leases with some companies, and evaluates awarding new mining permissions to private companies.

Edited excerpt:

Which sectors are Chile and India collaborating in?

We are expanding ties in trade, mining, renewable energy, and technology. We’re focusing on leveraging strengths in sectors such as information technology, healthcare, and agriculture to deepen our partnership.

Regarding mining and minerals, Chile is a major producer of copper, and there is significant potential for collaboration with India in the mining and minerals sector. Indian companies have shown interest in investing in Chilean mining projects, and this collaboration is expected to grow in the future.

In the field of renewable energy, both countries are committed to sustainable development and have been cooperating in the renewable energy sector, too, including the non-conventional ones. However, there is potential for further collaboration in areas such as solar energy, wind power, and energy storage solutions.

Chile and India have a strong foundation for collaboration in various sectors, and there is immense potential to deepen these partnerships in future. By identifying new areas of cooperation and leveraging each other’s strengths, both countries can create mutually beneficial opportunities for growth and development.

Are there talks with Indian companies for lithium deals in Chile?

Yes, we’re in discussions with Indian firms interested in Chile’s lithium, aiming for collaboration in one of the world’s largest lithium reserves.

The Chilean government is seeking to renegotiate existing leases with some companies, and is also evaluating to award new mining permissions to private companies as part of a transparent and competitive process. All countries are welcome in this process. This indicates openness to engaging with private and public entities for lithium ventures.

How do you plan to boost India-Chile trade?

We’re diversifying trade, leveraging our trade agreement, and improving logistics. Targeting sectors like technology and renewable energy could also offer new trade avenues. Streamlining administrative procedures and reducing trade barriers can facilitate easier business and investment activities between India and Chile. This can involve promoting investment forums, trade delegations, and business matchmaking events to enhance economic ties.

Another important aspect is strengthening people-to-people ties through cultural and tourism exchanges, which can foster a better understanding between the two nations, leading to increased economic collaboration and trade.

Through continuous dialogue, cooperation, and proactive measures, the two countries can create an environment conducive to robust and sustainable trade growth.

Is the India-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) expanding to include services?

The existing India-Chile PTA has been expanded to cover a significant number of tariff lines in goods, fostering bilateral trade that has average $2.5 billion. This expansion has facilitated the inclusion of products such as fresh fruits, dried fruits, chemical goods, pork meat, poultry, and kiwis, indicating a broadening of trade categories.

Efforts are being made to include investments and services within the PTA, which would be beneficial for both Indian and Chilean companies seeking to enter the services sector, because currently, the PTA covers only goods.

Potential negotiations to start an FTA or a CEPA with India are being considered to accommodate services and other areas of economic cooperation.

What items could expand Chile-India trading relations?

Copper, lithium, and agricultural products have significant potential. Expanding into technology and renewable energy could also boost trade.

Given the shared commitment to renewable energy, there are opportunities for Chile to export solar energy equipment and solutions to India. Chile’s expertise in waste management and environmental technologies can be of interest to India, which is focusing on sustainable development and environmental conservation.

How can the export product basket be diversified?

The current composition of trade between Chile and India, with a focus on cars and other vehicles from India and ores, slag, ash, and food items from Chile, does indeed indicate a lack of variety that may have hindered the full potential of bilateral trade growth.

In fact, the concentration of exports and imports in a few product categories can limit the overall growth potential of bilateral trade. Diversifying the export product basket is crucial for fostering a more balanced and sustainable trade relationship.

There are several opportunities to diversify the export product basket, including technology, renewable energy solutions, agricultural products, forestry products, and value-added food items.

Diversifying into non-traditional goods and value-added products can enhance our trade relationship. Identifying emerging sectors is also key.

Amid global trade challenges such as the Houthi attacks and the Russia-Ukraine war, how is Chile-India trade affected?

Despite challenges, we see resilience through diversification and strategic agreements. Copper trade remains a strong focus, with an optimistic outlook for growth.

The regional conflicts and disruptions may pose challenges in terms of market access and navigation of trade regulations, potentially affecting the ease of doing business between Chile and India.

How do deepening US-India ties and WTO reforms affect Chile?

These developments offer new opportunities for economic cooperation and highlight the need for inclusive, fair WTO reforms that adapt to modern trade challenges.

Chile acknowledges the need for reforms to the WTO to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in addressing contemporary trade challenges, fostering fair trade practices, and promoting global economic development.

With respect to that, efforts to reform the WTO should prioritize inclusivity, fairness, and the participation of developing economies to ensure that the global trading system benefits all members and supports sustainable and equitable economic growth.

Is Chile considering purchasing Vande Bharat trains from India?

While there are no formal discussions yet, we’re open to exploring advanced rail technologies from India. India’s initiative to export Vande Bharat trains presents an opportunity for potential collaboration between Chile and India in the field of advanced transportation technologies, which could contribute to the modernization of Chile’s railway systems.

Though specific plans to purchase Vande Bharat trains from India are not currently in place, the potential for exploring such options in the future aligns with Chile’s interest in leveraging advanced rail technologies to enhance its transportation infrastructure. This initiative also presents opportunities for collaboration and technology transfer between Chile and India in the field of railway modernization.

Any collaborations in the defense sector on the horizon?

Dialogue on security and strategic matters is ongoing, laying the groundwork for potential defense cooperation. Both countries share common concerns over global security issues, and Chile has actively participated in multilateral efforts to combat terrorism, which underscores the potential for mutual engagement in defense-related initiatives.

Chile has expressed its support for India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, indicating a willingness to engage in discussions related to strategic and security matters.

So, as part of the shared vision for a prosperous and cooperative future, both nations may explore avenues for defense cooperation, potentially through dialogues, joint training exercises, information sharing, and technology transfer in areas such as defense innovation and security strategy.

How can Indian and Chilean youth collaborate on key issues?

Through cultural exchanges, joint innovation, and environmental projects, utilizing digital platforms for collaboration, we can bridge distances and tackle global challenges together.

Regarding education and research, there are opportunities for academic exchange programs, joint research projects, and educational initiatives that could facilitate knowledge transfer and academic collaboration between the youth in India and Chile.


Javaid Naikoo is a senior correspondent at Press Insider. A seasoned and analytical journalist, Javaid covers economy and policy from New Delhi. He has reported on politics, business and social issues in the past, and also has a keen interest in photojournalism. His compelling words and art have appeared across domestic and global publications. More

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