From Lithium to Space

India and Argentina’s Growing Scientific Collaboration

As India looks forward to strengthening its trade and diplomatic ties with Latin America, the South American powerhouse, Argentina has emerged as an indispensable strategic partner for India. With abundant resources and much-untapped potential, India and Argentina could work together in a wide range of sectors bolstered by the fact that both nations are emerging powers with rapidly growing economies. The elevation of their bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership in 2019, and a series of three high-level meetings within a year, have reinforced their cooperation and underlined the significance of their diplomatic ties. While the economic ties between the two countries have steadily grown over the past few decades, reaching a historic high of USD 5.7 billion in 2021(the former being the fourth largest trading partner of the latter), there are still enormous opportunities for deepening their scientific and technological collaboration to address pertinent sectors/concerns such as Climate Change, Energy, Security, Space, Defence, and Pharmaceuticals.

Climate Change is a pressing challenge that requires global cooperation to mitigate its adverse impacts. The Paris Agreement is a significant multilateral effort to limit global warming to well below 2°C and preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. India and Argentina are both signatories to the agreement and have set ambitious targets for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2070 and 2050, respectively. To achieve this ambitious climate goal, both nations recognize the need to transition towards a green energy mix. India aims to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources, with a particular focus on solar energy (PIB, 2022). On the other hand, Argentina has a significant reserve of lithium, which is a crucial component in building renewable energy storage. Given India’s growing demand for metals and minerals, including lithium, there is potential for a commercial partnership between the two nations for lithium exploration in Argentina.

Additionally, both India and Argentina have a shared interest in civil nuclear cooperation. Argentina being a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has expressed support for India’s membership in the group, which would allow India greater access to uranium and nuclear technology, enabling it to produce nuclear equipment commercially. The two nations have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance civil nuclear cooperation, including organizing training, seminars, workshops, and lectures by research experts from both sides to develop a pool of trained human resources in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Further, space exploration and utilization have become increasingly important in recent times, with critical domains such as communication, national security, and disaster management relying heavily on space technologies. Furthermore, the high costs associated with space exploration, coupled with the potential technological innovations, depict space cooperation as an important area for collaboration. The National Space agencies of India such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Argentina’s, ComisiónNacional de ActividadesEspaciales (CONAE), are currently exploring opportunities for alliance in specific areas such as Satellite Data Sharing, Data Calibration/Validation Experiments, Establishment or Cross Utilization of Ground Stations, Space Exploration and Space Debris Studies. By working in partnership, both nations can reap the rewards of technological innovations, scientific revelations, and a wider spectrum of economic activities.

Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative has proven to be a significant catalyst for enhancing defence cooperation between India and Argentina. The latter has shown a keen interest in the indigenously produced Tejas Fighter Jet as a potential acquisition. Furthermore, both Countries are aiming to increase their cooperation in defence in varied areas such as exchange visits of armed forces, defence training, and joint production of defence equipment. Another potential area of association is the development of drone technology for both civilian and military purposes. Given the expected global drone market size of around $60 billion by 2026 (Statista Research Department, 2023), both nations stand to benefit significantly from such an alliance. Through enhanced defence cooperation, the combined expertise of India and Argentina in defence could be harnessed to deepen their diplomatic relations, enhance their defence capabilities, and unlock new growth prospects.

Argentina also seeks India’s assistance in deploying technologies for use in its industries and supporting its entrepreneurs. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a top research and development organization, possesses the technical expertise necessary to provide scientific guidance for the development processes, and could play a leading role in promoting industrial innovation through joint technology development and upscaling each other’s intellectual property for commercialization. India also extends its India Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme scholarships to facilitate training for 40-45 Argentinean working professionals annually.

Lastly, in the area of pharmaceuticals and healthcare, India is recognized as the world’s largest provider of generic drugs, accounting for 20% of the global volume (IBEF, 2022). India’s pharmaceutical industry is widely known for producing affordable vaccines and generic medications. With a presence in over 200 countries, including the US and the UK, India is a significant exporter of pharmaceuticals. However, Argentina has not yet shown substantial imports of Indian pharmaceutical products. To strengthen the pharma industry in the region, both countries signed Memorandums of Understanding in 2019, which facilitates institutional cooperation to boost pharma development and manufacturing.

To conclude, the strategic partnership between India and Argentina is poised to continue to grow and prosper. Both countries share similar perspectives on many multilateral issues and have a shared interest in promoting South-South cooperation. They also support each other’s cases for joining various multilateral organizations like BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and NSG. However, some bilateral issues such as non-tariff barriers in the textile sector, license validity, import payment etc. still need to be addressed. Despite these challenges, the partnership between these two emerging powers spans various sectors, from lithium to space, and is based on mutual benefits. This, in turn, makes the India-Argentina partnership a partnership for the future.

Kamaldeep Kaur Sarna
Kamaldeep Kaur Sarna is Assistant Professor, Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi
Abhijeet Jaiswal
Abhijeet Jaiswal is former post-graduate Student, Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi

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