Guatemala sees India as a reliable trade partner

“India’s Hon’ble External Affairs Minister Mr. S. Jaishankar visited Panama recently and held discussion on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the Central American Integration System (SICA). We are at the final stage of negotiating this agreement and I expect this to be implemented in the coming months, even before the implementation of the proposed India-EU trade agreement. Guatemala prefers to improve economic relation with India and it is seriously exploring ways to achieve this. Our bilateral trade volume is hardly USD 486 million and I expect this to triple in the next few years,” said H.E. Mr. Omar Lisandro Castaneda Solares, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Guatemala to India at an interactive meeting. The meeting was organized by WTC Mumbai and All India Association of Industries (AIAI).

Central American Integration System (SICA) is a regional bloc of eight countries, viz. Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. SICA has a population of around 50 million and it is the most integrated region in the Latin America and the Caribbean.

Pointing to areas of bilateral cooperation, the Ambassador mentioned, “We prefer to improve trade and investment ties with India in pharmaceuticals, auto and auto-components as India is a reliable supply partner which meets our requirement in terms of quality. There are also emerging trade and investment opportunities in IT, telecom and energy between both the countries. Guatemala’s two apex industry chambers are planning to visit India in the coming months to explore Indian market and areas of mutual collaboration.”

H.E. Mr. Solares welcomed Indian companies to explore trade and investment opportunities in Guatemala. He said, “Guatemala has been a peaceful, safe and democratic country for the last 36 years with stable macroeconomic environment. Guatemala has a stable currency and banking system. It can be a gateway to USA and EU as we have trade agreements with these jurisdictions. We wholeheartedly welcome Indian companies to do business in our market. Guatemala has a young demographic profile as majority of the population fall in the age group of 25-35 years and they are highly skilled, similar to the demographic profile of India.

Specifically, the Ambassador invited Indian companies to invest in manufacture of eco-friendly consumer products such as compostable and biodegradable handbags. He informed, “Guatemala is an ideal destination for manufacture of eco-friendly bags using bagasse, which is a byproduct of sugar industry. Bagasse is abundantly available in our country as it is a byproduct of sugar manufacturing, a prominent industry in our economy. Our country is seriously looking for alternatives to single-use plastics to protect environment.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Vijay Kalantri, Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai highlighted, “The current trade volume between India and Guatemala is below the true potential. AIAI and WTC Mumbai will take efforts to enhance mutual trade and investment by signing MoUs with the Embassy of Guatemala and exchanging frequent trade delegations. We are also planning to organize India-Latin America Economic Conclave in the course of time to create awareness about areas of mutual collaboration.”

Dr. Kalantri added, “India is a pharma capital of the world and this is one potential area for mutual collaboration. Indian mining companies can also explore nickel reserves in Guatemala as this mineral is used in batteries for electric vehicles.”

Dr. Kalantri suggested Indian industry to consider Guatemala as a gateway to Latin America and USA because of its strategic location.

Capt. Somesh Batra, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai proposed vote of thanks for the event.