India Seeks FTA With Countries Supporting ‘Atmanirbhar’ Journey In EVs

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  • There is a target go converting all vehicles in electronic platform by 2030
  • Reportedly, India has been reaching out to countries in the ‘Lithium Triangle’ – Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile
  • India and Bolivia have agreed to a joint venture for setting up Lithium Battery/Cell production

2019 had witnessed hectic diplomacy as well as ministerial engagements with certain countries. The prior focus on India seeking joint ventures, acquisition, as well as exploration rights in the Lithium mines and access to cobalt too. 

It has been reported that India has set a target of wanting all vehicles converted into an electric platform by 2030. However the latest face-off with China created a bottleneck in the supply of raw materials. India has been looking at countries in South America and Africa, which are rich in minerals like Lithium and Cobalt. 

The report also mentioned that India has already been reaching out to countries in the ‘Lithium Triangle’ – Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile in South America and has been meeting with officials in Congo, South Africa as they have huge deposits or Lithium and Cobalt. These two minerals are essential to realise its goals for converting all vehicles into EV by 2030.

Since the tensions with China has brought the import of raw materials to a standstill, the engagement with these countries have been on a rise. When Bolivia has committed investments in Lithium processing projects from companies in China and Germany’s ACI system has a joint venture with the state-owned Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos with a promised investment of $ 900 million for extraction in Uyuni.

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Therefore, India and Bolivia have agreed to a joint venture for setting up Lithium Battery/Cell production in India and to facilitate Bolivian supplies of Lithium Carbonate to India. 

State owned (KABIL) consortium of three PSU companies including National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corp Ltd.,(MECL) have been travelling to the South American countries as well as to Congo and South Africa seeking possibilities of cooperation. 

Lithium Triangle 

Leading diplomats of the country have claimed that Argentina has the largest Lithim resources in the world. This has been based on the high exploration activity in recent years.

According to the report, Bolivia has more than 40% of town reserves of Lithium. The resources are mostly located in Salar de Uyuni which is the world’d largest salt flat rick in Lithium.

Chile has more tan 49% of the total lithium reserves in the world, located mainly in the Salar de Atacama, and Salar de Maricunga. Global giants like SQM,SCM, Rockwood, SLM, Mineria Li, Combo, Corfo, Codelco, Simbalik, Albemarle, among others are already present. There are other Salars app where the Lithium mineral is found and the exploration is going on. 

The demands are expected to be on a rise as they would be used in solar panels, using Lithium Ion based batteries. India has set a target of 100GW of solar power generation by 2022.

Free Trade Agreement (FTAs)

The government has recently proposed a major shift in its Foreign Trade Policy. The policy plans to explore FTAs with countries which can help India in its journey towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mission and help in providing the raw material as well as the critical components etc required for manufacturing activities.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce has mining agreements and ink FTAs with countries which are resource-rich in Latin America and Africa. 

An internal presentation by DPIIT focusing on efforts to boost industrial growth in India has suggested FTAs would help. And countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Congo, South Africa rich in mineral resources, especially lithium and cobalt have been identified. 

Agreement to reduce trade tariffs 

It is an agreement in which the member countries reduce tariffs on trade among themselves, and maintain their own tariff rates for trade with non-members. 

It has been shared by an expert that “Over time India has tried to diversify its export destinations and import supplies. And, if it is gaining momentum through FTAs with these countries it only shows the resolve of the government to ensure regular and reliable import supplies for self-reliant manufacturing not only in an environment-friendly manner in the Automobile Sector but quite generally.” The expert also added “ this also reiterates that a self-reliant India is ready to engage with the world without losing sight of the Supporting Domestic business. 

So far India already has a trade agreement with Chile, which is currently, negotiating the expansion of the existing agreement. 

Talks in the India-Mercosur are getting delayed due to internal disagreement between Brazil and Argentina. 

Following President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to landlocked Bolivia last year, Indian side is looking forward to conduct a feasibility study to explore the possibility of signing the Free Trade Agreement with that country. The doors will open for starting negotiations, once the study is complete. Products would be identified on which the tariffs and other conditions could be lowered. 

It was also reported earlier that the two nations are keen on expanding their trade opportunities and identify sectors which would help in expanding bilateral trade relations. 

A trade agreement would be in favour, since India and Bolivia are keen on diversifying trade and industrialisation of its mineral resources. There are huge deposits of silver, tin, copper, gold which is of interest to India. 

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