The importance of enhancing physical and digital connectivity between India and the Caribbean formed a major part of discussions in Delhi a few days ago when Charles Fernandez, the Minister in Charge of Aviation, participated in a meeting there.
Fernandez emphasized the need for improved connectivity as it would allow for easier transportation of goods, services, and people.
He also encouraged India to invest in air and sea transportation in Latin America and the Caribbean to facilitate regional trade.
“Encouraging cross-border investments and technology transfer will enable the development of local industries in both regions. India has become one of the biggest driving forces in the Healthcare Industry worldwide. This has been recognized by many developing nations who have forged close ties with India. This is a significant achievement and speaks to the knowledge and expertise here,” he said
According to Fernandez, the dissemination of these resources to LAC countries will assist us in our delivery of modern and affordable services in our healthcare, and will also serve as an investment into professionals through knowledge transfers. This will bolster our growth in this sector.
“This can be achieved by establishing investment promotion and protection agreements, technology transfer mechanisms, and capacity-building programs.
“Improving physical and digital connectivity between India and LAC countries will facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people. Investments in infrastructure, such as ports and transportation networks, are crucial. The biggest impediment to trade expansion is the absence of air and sea connectivity within the LAC countries. If we are to realize a doubling of India LAC trade in 5 years, then air and sea connectivity must get the necessary attention to deliver on this purposeful undertaking,” he said
Antigua & Barbuda offers investment opportunities in Banking, Tourism, Digital Financial Services, and Medical Education and Services. Fernandez assured that his government had passed the relevant parliamentary regulations concerning these sectors, including Stem Cell delivery.
“We offer a wide plethora of incentives towards investments, thus reducing the risk for the investor and allowing for high return on investment,” he said.
Fernandez acknowledged that the need for air and sea connectivity is a major challenge to expanding regional trade.
“Over the years, India has made significant strides in diversifying its bilateral trade with Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries, moving from a focus on commodities to high-value manufactured goods, technology-related products, and services. This shift has resulted in a more balanced trade relationship and holds great potential for the economic growth and development of both India and the Global South”, he said
Fernandez also thanked the government of India for their contribution during the Covid-19 period by providing the country with Astra Zeneca vaccines.
“We will always remember this benevolent gesture. I can say without fear of contradiction that many lives were saved as a result of the prompt action on their part to rush these vaccines to us. In addition, livelihoods were also saved. These vaccines allowed us to continue to open our vital tourism industry and welcome visitors with greater protection for our people. Tourism accounts for over 60% of our GDP. Thank you India,” he said
Historically, India’s bilateral trade with LAC countries primarily revolved around commodities such as petroleum, chemicals, and agricultural products.
Fernandez said that while this trade contributed to the regional economic ties, it needed more depth and diversity for sustainable growth. Recognizing this, India has proactively expanded its trade horizons and diversified its export basket.
“In recent years, India has witnessed a perceptible shift towards high-value manufactured goods, technology-related products, and services in its trade with LAC countries. Various factors, including advancements in manufacturing capabilities, technological innovation, and the growing demand for specialized products and services, have driven this diversification. As a result, India has emerged as a reliable supplier of automobiles, pharmaceuticals, information technology services, and engineering goods, among others, to the LAC region,” he added.