Daniel Chuburu, Ambassador of Argentina to India presented his credentials to President, Ram Nath Kovind this April. Before coming to India Chuburu, a degree holder in Economics and Business was posted as an Ambassador to the United Mexican States, concurrent with Belize.

Chuburu, who has also worked as a professor of International Relations was a member of his country’s delegations to many institutions: Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin (FONPLATA); Commission on transnational corporations, and others.

In an e-mail interview with Rakesh Kumar, the ambassador spoke about India-Argentina relations, economic ties and Argentina’s proposal to introduce direct flights to enhance people to people contact.

How do you look at India-Argentina relations?

Our government has established a clear roadmap for the relationship with India. Starting with the excellent bilateral relationship that we enjoy today, it is our goal to strengthen our ties and take them a step further, achieving a strategic relationship based on mutually beneficial cooperation with high added value. In an uncertain, rapidly changing and complex world, Argentina and India must be strategic partners.

Two areas must be the key focus of this relationship: food and energy security. We are fully aware that these are two main goals for India. Argentina wants to partner India in this strategic sense in order to help it achieve its two main goals. Technology must also be a key component of this relationship, and this includes nuclear, radar, space, and defence components.

I firmly believe that we need better strategic ties and a deeper involvement of India not only in our country, but also in all Latin America. And next year will mark a special occasion: We will be celebrating 70 years of bilateral relations and friendship between Argentina and India. We both embrace the same values of democracy, pluralism and tolerance and believe in development as the key to a better future. We have a great opportunity ahead.

India and Argentina had signed a preferential trade agreement (PTA) in 2009. Has it helped the two countries to enhance economic ties?

The Framework Agreement for the creation of a Free Trade Area between Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and the Republic of India, signed in June 2003, provides the reciprocal granting of tariff preferences as a first step towards the signing of a free trade agreement. In this framework, Mercosur and India entered into a Preferential trade Agreement (PTA) in 2004, granting preferential access (margins of 10 per cent, 20 per cent and 100 per cent) to 452 Indian products and 450 products originating in Mercosur.

Since then, and taking into account the relatively modest coverage of the PTA, Mercosur and India started negotiations in 2016, in order to expand it by interchanging wish lists. In 2017 both sides have presented their lists, and we all are still working on the analysis of the same.

It is important to mention that, despite some difficulties we are facing in the process of expanding the coverage of the agreement, the bilateral commerce has been increasing over the last few years, which shows the great potential of the commercial relation.

Some of the products our countries export to India the most, have shown a comparative advantage in terms of tariffs, which helps to enhance the ties. Nevertheless, the intention is to extend the agreement also to sanitary and phytosanitary issues, technical barriers to trade and origin certificates. We are also proud to share that the PTA between Mercosur and India is of particular importance because it was the first commercial agreement of this type signed by Mercosur with a non-Latin American country.

Argentina is a member of Mercosur. How do you look at this grouping’s relationship with India?

It has an extraordinary potential that must be fully unleashed. The negotiations for expanding the coverage of the PTA, as mentioned before, will help us in this regard.

Argentina is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). Why is India not being admitted to this global nuclear cartel?

It is a sensible issue as it involves nuclear non-proliferation and the transfer of dual-use technologies. Argentina has supported India’s bid for membership at the NSG. And we have a bilateral Agreement for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in place, which we hope can be implemented soon.

How do you look at India’s claim for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and do you support India’s candidature?

India and Argentina share the view that reforms are necessary so the United Nations can reflect the world order and also share our commitment to multilateralism. But we differ when we come to the issue of how these reforms should be implemented. Argentina, for instance, supports the idea that the Security Council should be reformed, but not on the basis of additional permanent members.

What is being done to improve air connectivity between India and Argentina?

There are conversations underway in order to sign an Air Connectivity Agreement between our national airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, and Air India. I believe it will be ready soon. This will hopefully allow connecting easily through Europe.

Of course, when we speak about air connectivity, we have to always take into account that our countries are 15,500 km away from each other. It takes at least 20 hours to reach one point from the other. This geographical distance can’t be changed. It’s geography. But I believe that the agreement, once in place, will makes things easier.

How many Indians currently live in Argentina?

I do not have the exact number, but I believe it has to be close to 2,500. Recently, a large number of young engineers have settled in our country. This is a new trend. You have, for example, those who work for the company Cognizant, who have settled in our Capital city, Buenos Aires.

There is also a Sikh community in the northeast area of our country, mostly in the provinces of Salta and Tucuman. They even have a gurdwara in a city called Rosario de la Frontera, since 1995. I believe that the only other gurdwara in Latin America is in Guyana.

Do you see the scope for promoting people-to-people contact between the two countries?

People to people contact are necessary in order to get a better knowledge and understanding of each other, to understand our differences but also the things that bring us together. Of course, there are many levels and ways for this. Tourism, for example, has a huge potential. We are strongly working on promoting destinations in Argentina for Indian tourists. There, they can find very different types of climates and landscapes that can adjust to any preference.

Through sports we can also expand these contacts. Polo, field hockey and football represent opportunities that we must use. There is great scope here. Language does not represent any barrier in the world of sports. We still have to work harder on student interactions and exchanges. That is one of our main challenges towards the future.