CARICOM refers to the Caribbean Community and the Common Market, known as the Caribbean Community, was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas on 4 July 1973. CARICOM has 15 members – Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica , Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
While India has long had diplomatic relations with individual Caribbean countries, India thought of developing relations with the CARICOM countries as a group.
A CARICOM delegation visited India in 2003. The major outcome of the visit was that an agreement was signed between India and the CARICOM Secretariat for the establishment of a Permanent Joint Commission on Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination.
Recent trends have shown that there is a greater potential for economic ties through trade.
There is no doubt that China is already playing a major economic role in the Caribbean, but with its growing middle class, India’s population is likely to exceed China by 2030 and could provide a huge market.
India’s total trade with Latin America and the Caribbean averaged $117 million between 2008-2010, while its trade with CARICOM countries increased from US$85.5 million in 2003-4 to US$1195 million in 2009-10. Major export destinations of India and imports into India from this region are Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana and Barbados.
India exports mostly pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, machinery and equipment to CARICOM. Crude petroleum, gold, metal ores and scrap are the major commodities that India imports from CARICOM. For India, the acquisition and renovation of hotels in the CARICOM region, which is a very popular tourist destination, will be fruitful. Invest in popular Indian style Ayurveda/Yoga.
India’s FDI in Caribbean countries is also generally increasing, although it has seen a slight decline between 2011 and 2017.
However, this is mostly due to a decline in FDI in CARICOM’s associate members, the British Virgin and the Cayman Islands.
Of the total investment in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, 70 percent went to the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands only in 2011.
From April 2011 to November 2017, 46% of Indian investment went to the British Virgin Islands, the largest share among the LAC countries. Between April 2011 and November 2017, the total investment in the Bahamas, mostly in the construction sector, was approximately US$163 million In the same period, India invested a total amount of about US$ 17.6 million in agriculture and mining in Guyana.
Thus, there has also been a change in the regional composition of these investments which have shifted towards agriculture and mining. For India, the Caribbean is strategically located for entry into the Latin American market. This is an added advantage that India should not miss.
The Government of India and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) signed a contribution agreement in 2019, which provides for a grant allocation of US$1 million to CDF’s capital fund.
The CDF’s directive is to provide financial and technical assistance to countries or regions within the Caribbean Community in areas such as the development of renewable energy or the enhancement of energy efficiency; Providing physical infrastructure to encourage investment and trade; To encourage small and medium enterprises and to develop human resources.
In software and information technology, the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC) is one of the flagships of the Development Partnership Administration in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, established in 2012. India can also help increase drug manufacturing to offshore medical centres, including the supply of anti-retroviral drugs to fight HIV/AIDS. Natural supplementation of products for trade with the Caribbean region as well as a large market share in the region. With the Indian diaspora community benefiting, it is the right time for India to explore further avenues for closer cooperation and dialogue on both a bilateral and multilateral basis.