What is 'CELAC' Exactly?
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is a Latin American and Caribbean regional bloc.
Caribbean states devised a plan on February 23, 2010, at the Rio Group-Caribbean.
On December 3rd, 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, the Declaration of Caracas was signed. It is made up of 33 sovereign countries in the Americas with a population of over a million people. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands, on the other hand, are not part of this group.
What is CELAC's objective?
CELAC is an example of a ten-year effort to deepen Latin American integration and reduce the United States' once-dominant influence on Latin American politics and economics. It is classified as an Organization of American States (OAS), a regional organisation established ostensibly to counteract possible Soviet influence in the region.
The First Summit Of CELAC
The inaugural summit of CELAC, which was scheduled for mid-2011, has been postponed by Hugo Chavez, President of the Host Nation, Venezuela. Instead, in December 2011, the summit was held in Caracas. The global economic crisis and its consequences were the main topics of discussion.
Several leaders, including Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Dilma Rouseff Santos, encouraged increased regional trade, economic development, and cooperation among members in order to defend their growing economies. Chavez, along with Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega, expressed optimism that the bloc would work together to achieve integration, end US hegemony, and strengthen regional control. Chavez called for the OAS openly, citing the doctrine as the first confirmation of US meddling in the region.
The United States has been sanctioned by Architecture for maintaining Coca's legal status in Bolivia and rejecting the Cuban Embargo.
India's Contribution To CELAC
The fact that CELAC was founded in defiance of the Organization of American States' decision to exclude the United States from its political confabulations is reflected in its very existence.
Because Europe and the United States are preoccupied with their own debt crises and political transitions, Latin America no longer looks to them as role models. As a result, China is a major player in Latin America, with annual trade worth $240 billion. Two pillars support the Chinese presence there: first, a massive exchange of commodities and natural resources, and second, a large Chinese Diaspora of over 2 million people.
Although there has been a slight shift in policy positioning toward Beijing in recent months, this will continue to sustain China's relationship with Latin America. Some people see the influx of Chinese goods as a threat, while others simply want to broaden their horizons.
This is where India comes into play. It gives Latin America the chance to diversify while also giving it access to a large and promising market. Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno put it succinctly: "India was chosen as the first dialogue partner because of its size, similar political positions, and affinity for developing countries."
The establishment of a Business Council, a CEO Forum, an Energy Forum, a Science Forum, and an Agricultural Experts group, among the key points of the India-CELAC Joint Statement, indicate that there are commonalities to build on. But, more importantly, the groundwork for these mechanisms has already been laid.
Energy is the starting point. With annual trade exceeding $10 billion and accounting for roughly 10% of India's total oil imports, it is the most important trade component in the India-Latin America relationship. Indians have been forced to look to new markets such as Latin America as a result of the growing instability in the Middle East and the frequent imposition of sanctions on Iran.
Two private oil companies, Reliance and Essar, have taken the lead in this area. This isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision; Essar plans to import one-third of its crude from Latin America, which will be equal to or greater than its Middle Eastern imports. These businesses show that distance and mismatched crude refineries can be overcome.
India and CELAC are planning to create an Energy Forum that will serve as a platform for increased energy cooperation. If India is to solve its massive energy problems, it will need to make a deliberate national policy decision to diversify into new oil markets like Latin America.
Aside from energy, agriculture continues to play an important role in India-CELAC trade, with edible oil and sugars accounting for the majority of this category. Forming a network of agricultural research institutions, farmers and traders, farm equipment manufacturers, and fertiliser organisations can help to speed up collaboration in this sector.
Other fields, such as science and technology, transportation, and infrastructure, can aid India and CELAC in strengthening their ties. More importantly, both sides find themselves in each other's comfort zones in a broader geopolitical context.
Nonetheless, India presents new challenges and opportunities, in contrast to the industrialised world with which Latin America is familiar. Some of these issues could be addressed by removing trade barriers or signing commercial agreements, diversifying trade, and enacting pro-investment policies. For starters, India could join the Inter-American Development Bank, which would increase credit facilities for Indian investors in Latin America—at least for the time being. After all, India has 17 embassies in the region, and Indian companies, particularly in the information technology sector, have a strong presence. The political and economic will of both sides will determine whether CELAC is temporary or permanent. Other countries and regions will continue to engage more deeply with Latin America as a whole; India's role is to fill in the gaps, engage in economic diplomacy, and play to its strengths.
On the 7th of August, the India-CELAC Troika Foreign Ministers met for the first time in New Delhi. Both sides conducted a comprehensive review of India-CELAC relations during the discussions. They also talked about regional and multilateral issues that they both care about. The talks focused on strengthening India-multifaceted CELAC's bilateral cooperation, coordinating responses to regional issues, and addressing international challenges such as UN reforms, the international financial crisis, climate change, and international terrorism.
The Summit's Major Highlights
They expressed their delight at the growing ties between India and Latin American and Caribbean countries and reaffirmed their desire to collaborate while keeping in mind each side's respective development priorities, based on the commonly shared values of democracy, freedom, equality, and justice.
The Foreign Ministers agreed to increase the number of visits between India and CELAC at all levels, including at the summit, in order to achieve a "Strategic Partnership" between the two countries. They emphasised the importance of meeting every year in India and the CELAC country that is currently holding the pro-tempore presidency.
Investment & Trade
The ministers were pleased with the expansion of India's commercial, economic, and investment ties with CELAC. They recognised that, despite the fact that trade between India and the region exceeded $25 billion in 2012, it remained far below potential. The ministers emphasised the importance of diversifying trade, participating in each other's trade fairs, exchanging business delegations, constructing regulatory frameworks, easing the movement of goods, services, and people, and strengthening air connectivity and shipping links to realise the available potential. They agreed to form an India-CELAC Business Council and an India-CELAC CEOs Forum in this regard.
These business-related institutional mechanisms are expected to meet on a regular basis and make recommendations for further strengthening India-CELAC ties.
Both parties agreed that energy security is essential for economic development. Both sides agreed to establish an energy forum to address this important issue, given the importance both sides place on bilateral cooperation in the sphere of energy security, including renewable energy.
The Indian side recognised that Latin America has a wealth of diverse mental resources that could help India maintain its current growth rate. Both parties agreed to work together to provide value addition in commodity exchanges through direct trading and the establishment of manufacturing units. The Indian side offered to assist other countries in mapping their geological features.
Both sides also highlighted the growing importance of the mineral trade and in this regard, emphasised the need to promote mutual investment opportunities to contribute to the economic growth of both India & CELAC countries.