The Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and its MoU partner the Centre for Contemporary India and South Asia Studies Services (CESICAM), Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations, Universidad Externado de Colombia (UEC) held their inaugural dialogue on the theme ‘The Evolving Geopolitics and Geo-Economics: Role of India and Colombia in the New Geography of Power’ on 18 April 2023. The dialogue was held online and saw the participation of diplomats, officials and scholarson both sides. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Luis Felipe Quintero, Vice Minister of State of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, Colombia.
In her opening remarks, Amb Vijay Thakur Singh, DG,ICWA spoke about the several challenges currently facing the world which is experiencing unprecedented geopolitical shifts and uncertainty. Elaborating on India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific, she underscored the need to uphold the rules-based maritime order to ensure freedom of navigation and unimpeded flow of lawful commerce which is important for the prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region which includes both India and Colombia. She noted that, for India, Colombia is as an important partner country having a vast coast along the Pacific Ocean.
In his address Mr. Luis Felipe Quintero, Vice Minister of State of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, Colombiapresented the main elements of Colombia’s new reindustrialization policy, also described as Colombia’s first official strategy towards Asia. He highlighted that the central objective of the policy is transitioning from an extraction based economy to a knowledge-based, productive, and sustainable economy. Key focus areas of the policy include energy transition, agro reindustrialization and food sovereignty, health, defense, etc. He noted that Colombia was seeking investments in sustainable energy and was rebalancing its external economic relations in favor of Asia. He noted that the dialogue was taking place at an opportune time on the eve of the visit of the External Affairs Minster Dr. S. Jaishankar to Colombia which would further give an impetus to bilateral relations.
Mr. G. V. Srinivas, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India in his address shared the perspective on the growing partnership between India and Colombia. He emphasized that Colombia’s move to a knowledge-based economy presented many opportunities for enhanced collaboration between the two countries in particular in the field of digital public goods and pharma. Business and industrial ties have emerged as an important pillar of India-Colombia bilateral ties. Dr. Gonzalo Ordoñez, Dean School of Finance, Government and International Relations, UEC, Bogota underscored that Colombia is improving itsagenda of studies and research with Asian countries, where India plays an important role. Colombia was refocusing its trade policy away from its traditional partners such as the US and EU towards other countries of the Global South and could learn from India’s experiences in energy transition, food industry, space technology and digitisation, sectors which are playing a role in current geopolitics.
The panel discussion on ‘The Evolving Geopolitics: Role of India and Colombia in the New Geography of Power’ was chaired by Dr. Kelly Arevalo Franco, Research Professor, Faculty of Finance, Government, and International Relations, UEC, Bogota. The speakers in the panel were Dr. Soraya Caro, Director CESICAM and Advisor of Supreme Council of Trade, Colombia, Capt. SarabjeetParmar, Senior Fellow, National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi, Mr. Pranav Kumar, Former Head of International Trade and Policy, CII, New Delhi and Amb. Mariana Pacheco, Former Ambassador of Colombia to India. The panellists discussed the opportunities presented for collaboration between the two countries by India’s initiatives such as the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The Indo-Pacific provides the opportunity to explore collaborations in maritime economy and maritime connectivity. Other areas that were identified for possible collaboration included environment issues in the Amazon, building supply chain resilience by reducing risks and disruption, re-shoring, diversification and localization, health and pharmaceutical sectors,and cooperation in agriculture sector to ensure food security.