Engagement between EAM Jaishankar and Argentine Foreign Minister Cafiero at the G-20
India and Argentina enjoy a multi-layered relationship encompassing economic, political, scientific and technological, cultural cooperation. In recent years, collaboration in space, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals has gained prominence. Bilateral relations were upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2019 when former Argentine President, Mauricio Macri visited India. The year 2022 was significant as Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero visited India in April, which was followed by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar’s visit to Argentina.
On the 1st of March 2023, Dr. S. Jaishankar (EAM) of India and Santiago Cafiero, Foreign Minister of Argentina had a discussion before the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. This is significant given the strengthened ties, and both ministers described the meeting as productive and promised to work closely together on bilateral lines and multilateral fora.
The Argentine foreign minister said, “I had a very fruitful meeting with my counterpart Dr. Jaishankar today. We want the G20 to move forward with the Indian agenda.”
This paper will discuss the meeting of EAM, Dr. S. Jaishankar, and Argentina’s Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero on the sidelines of the G-20, to highlight the key points of interaction and the prospects in bilateral cooperation.
The Previous meeting of the External Affairs Minister of India and the Foreign Minister of Argentina in 2022
In April 2022, Foreign Minister Cafiero visited India and held a meeting with External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar. Discussions were held on bilateral cooperation in various fields, defence and technology transfer. The ministers also discussed future cooperation, especially joint ventures and high-tech businesses that would tap the potential of both countries. Following the visit of the Argentine Foreign Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar paid an official visit to Argentina in August 2022. In the meeting, the Argentine side expressed support for India’s G-20 presidency and discussed agendas related to the Global South such as affordable healthcare, pharmaceuticals, food and energy security. They expressed satisfaction with the close cooperation between the countries at multilateral and sectoral levels. The reform of the United Nations Security Council and South-South cooperation were discussed. Argentina expressed its support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India’s booming pharmaceutical and chemical exports found mention and in this context a request was made to include India from Annex II to Annex I to boost trade. India has expressed interest in prospecting lithium deposits in the Argentine provinces of Catamarca and Jujuy.
The interactions so far underline the strengthening of relations. The focus has been on economic cooperation, which includes economic diversification, balanced growth and the search for new trade opportunities. The possibility of payments in local currencies and investments in the private sector while creating an enabling environment for such opportunities were discussed. In terms of strategic aspects, both countries discussed cooperation in the fields of defence, nuclear and space.
Meeting of the External Affairs Minister of India and Foreign Minister of Argentina at the G-20, 2023
The talks between the ministers covered cooperation in the energy sector, economy, satellite science and technology, space and nuclear technology, expansion of India- MERCOSUR FTA, revival of the India-CELAC forum, defence and security, and food security. The intention was to deepen the strategic association between the two countries. The Argentine Foreign Minister explained that their position coincides with many of the lines of work that India is carrying out during its Presidency in the G-20, especially on the importance of the global South, facilitating consensus between developed and developing countries and promoting dialogue and diplomacy. He also congratulated India for assuming the presidency of the G-20 and offered cooperation from his government. Foreign Minister Cafiero expressed Argentina’s interest in integrating into the BRICS which received support from India. The meeting highlighted the strong democratic traditions in both countries, the rule of law and respect for human rights and territorial integrity of states.
There are opportunities to improve trade between the two countries, especially given the immense potential. For instance, bilateral trade in 2022 was US$ 5.63 billion, an increase of seventy per cent over the previous year. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the trade and discussed opportunities for diversification. Argentina, known for its agriculture, has an interest in developing new markets for its products. Significant efforts are being made under the National Export Promotion Plan 2023 by Buenos Aires. In the areas of finance, information technology and distance learning, there were discussions on exploring cybersecurity, blockchain technologies and digital financial inclusion. Argentina expressed its willingness to work on India’s digital payment platform and India responded with an offer to use NCPI’s expertise.
Discussions also took place on lithium, oil and gas exploration in the province of Vaca Muerte in Argentina. An agreement on energy cooperation[xii] already exists between Argentina’s YPF and India’s ONGC Videsh. Regarding a bilateral agreement on satellite technology, it was agreed that Argentina will cooperate with Suhora Space Analytics in imaging through its SAOCOM satellites. Buenos Aires will also participate at the G-20 Space Leaders Economy Meeting (SELM) in April 2023.
Consultations also took place in knowledge-intensive sectors such as information technology. This is of utmost importance as Argentina has booming unicorns and start-ups estimated to be worth over US$ 1 billion. India and Argentina cooperated during the pandemic and in recognition of the importance of the pharmaceutical and health sector, proposals for cooperation were made. India expressed its intention to promote infrastructure development in Argentina by funding the construction of overhead transmission lines, roads and highways, and developing renewable energy through solar, biogas, hydroelectric and wind power plants. Joint projects in common strategic areas such as energy transition, biotechnology and innovation under the auspices of Argentina’s MINCyT and India’s DST were envisaged for 2023-2024. Similar recommendations were also made in relation to Antarctic exploration, involving diplomatic coordination, scientific cooperation and exchange of information. This is significant as the Consultative Meeting on the Antarctic Treaty will be held in India in 2024.
The dignitaries discussed cooperation on multilateral platforms such as strengthening global institutions to address global challenges related to security, international and regional peace, climate change and terrorism. Technology transfer to developing countries, building multilateral financial institutions and cooperation on a South-South platform were some key areas that came to the forefront of the discussions. The call for reform of the UN Security Council to make it more representative and accountable and the promotion of human rights were particularly mentioned. Both sides reiterated the importance of a rules-based and transparent trade mechanism and therefore stressed the need to strengthen and modernise the WTO and its dispute settlement mechanism. Finally, both sides decided to hold the proposed India-Argentina Joint Commission meeting in 2023.
The two ministers noted that the meeting was productive and will point the way to substantial bilateral relations. The recent meeting reflects growing bilateral relationship on the lines of cooperation on a Global South platform which is inclusive and built on the grounds of developmental partnership. With India assuming the presidency of the G-20, this will lead to closer cooperation among developing countries, of which Argentina is a major player. For India, closer ties with the South American country will open up a host of opportunities for it such as investments in unicorns, pharmaceutical and defence exports, while Argentina can benefit from India’s pre-eminence in science and technology, finance and other areas. Of importance are prospects related to the possibility of Argentina acquiring India’s Light Combat Aircraft, the HAL Tejas, and further cooperation in space exploration. More recent prospects for cooperation include possible joint feasibility programmes in Antarctica and the probability of Argentina joining the BRICS.
[i] Times of India. (1st March 2023). ‘We want G20 to move forward with the Indian agenda’: Foreign Minister of Argentina. Accessed 10th March 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/we-want-g20-to-move-forward-with-the-indian-agenda-foreign-minister-of-argentina/videoshow/98342253.cms.
[ii] All India Radio News. (24th April 2022). EAM Dr. S Jaishankar holds talks with his Argentinian counterpart Santiago Cafiero in New Delhi. https://newsonair.gov.in/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=439766.
[iii] DNA. (25th April2022). Argentina FM Santiago Cafiero raises Falkland issues, lauds ties with Delhi during India visit. https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-argentina-fm-santiago-cafiero-raises-falkland-issues-lauds-ties-with-delhi-during-india-visit-2948270.
[iv] ANI. (27TH August 2022). Argentina affirms its support to India’s upcoming G-20 Presidency. https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/argentina-affirms-its-support-to-indias-upcoming-g20-presidency20220827080538/
[v] Huma Siddiqui. (25th April 2022). Raisina Dialogue: India- Argentina discuss defence, trade, nuclear coop and more. https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/raisina-dialogue-india-argentina-discuss-defence-trade-nuclear-coop-and-more/2502804/.
[vi] All India Radio News. (1st March 2023). EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar holds series of bilateral talks with his counterparts from several countries on sidelines of G-20 meeting. Accessed 10th March 2023 https://newsonair.gov.in/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=456657.
[vii] Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina (1st March 2023). Cafiero junto al canciller de la India impulsaron acuerdos energéticos y de tecnología satelital. Accessed 10th March 2023. https://cancilleria.gob.ar/es/actualidad/noticias/cafiero-junto-al-canciller-de-la-india-impulsaron-acuerdos-energeticos-y-de.
[viii] Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina. (3rd March 2023). India apoya el ingreso de Argentina a los BRICS. Accessed 11th March 2023. https://www.cancilleria.gob.ar/es/destacados/india-apoya-el-ingreso-de-argentina-los-brics.
[ix] Twitter. (3rd March 2023). Los problemas que enfrenta el mundo son de magnitud. Las soluciones también deben serlo. Accessed 10th March 2023. https://twitter.com/SantiagoCafiero/status/1631652676000792578.
[x] Embassy of India in Argentina. (2022). Brief on India-Argentina Bilateral Relations. Accessed 10th March 2023https://www.indembarg.gov.in/page/relations/#:~:text=As%20per%20DGFT%2C%20India%2DArgentina,8..
[xi]Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina (4st March 2023). Finalizo la exitosa misión comercial a India y Bangladesh encabezada por Cafiero junto a 20 empresas argentinas. Accessed 11th March 2023. https://www.cancilleria.gob.ar/es/actualidad/noticias/comunicado-conjunto-argentina-india-visita-de-estado-del-presidente-de-la.
[xii] Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina (1st March 2023). Información por la Prensa No. 098/23: Cafiero junto al canciller de la India impulsaron acuerdos energéticos y de tecnología satelital. Accessed 10th March 2023. https://cancilleria.gob.ar/es/actualidad/noticias/cafiero-junto-al-canciller-de-la-india-impulsaron-acuerdos-energeticos-y-de.
[xiii] Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina (4st March 2023). Finalizo la exitosa misión comercial a India y Bangladesh encabezada por Cafiero junto a 20 empresas argentinas. Accessed 11th March 2023. https://www.cancilleria.gob.ar/es/actualidad/noticias/comunicado-conjunto-argentina-india-visita-de-estado-del-presidente-de-la.
[xiv] Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina. (3rd March 2023). Cafiero en India: Incremento del comercio bilateral y relanzamiento del mecanismo CELAC-India. Accessed 11th March 2023. https://www.cancilleria.gob.ar/es/destacados/cafiero-en-india-incremento-del-comercio-bilateral-y-relanzamiento-del-mecanismo-celac.
[xv] Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Argentina. (3rd March 2023). G20: Cafiero alertó sobre la escalada nuclear de la guerra. Accessed 10th March 2023. https://cancilleria.gob.ar/es/actualidad/noticias/g20-cafiero-alerto-sobre-la-escalada-nuclear-de-la-guerra.
 A Memorandum of Understanding exists between the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, and the Secretariat of Mining Policy, Ministry of Productive Development of Argentina.
 National Payments Corporation of India, Government of India.
 Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, Fiscal Oilfields, Government of Argentina
 Oil and Natural Gas Company, Government of India.
 Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación or the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Government of Argentina.
 Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team