India-Bolivia Current Affairs - 2020

India gains access to Bolivian Lithium Reserves

India and Bolivia have signed an agreement for the development and industrial use of lithium, a prime component used to power electric vehicles and cell phones during the state visit of the President Ram Nath Kovind to Bolivia.

Forging Partnerships

  • India and Bolivia agreed to forge a mutually beneficial partnership to facilitate Bolivian supplies of lithium Carbonate to India and foster joint ventures for lithium battery/cell production plants in India. This agreement will make Bolivia, which is known to have one-fourth of the world’s lithium reserves, one of the major provider of metal for India’s e-mobility and e-storage needs.
  • The agreement facilitates mechanisms for the commercialization of Lithium Carbonate and Potassium Chloride produced in Bolivia by Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos Corporación (YLB – Corporación).

Why the agreement can be a game changer?

  • Bolivia is estimated to hold over 60 per cent of the world’s reserves for lithium, which is required for lithium-ion batteries for portable electronics, and electric vehicles, but has not yet started producing it commercially.
  • India is the second largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world and has the ambitious goal of 30 per cent electric vehicles by 2030. But India imports all its lithium-ion batteries since India has no known sources of lithium, and zero lithium-ion battery manufacturing capabilities currently.
  • As a result, India is heavily dependent on China, Taiwan and Japan for import, especially of batteries required for portable electronics.
  • With the MoU number of Indian companies setting up production capabilities in Bolivia goes up, as well as the import of lithium to India. Domestic production is also set to see a boost, from the automotive perspective. Further, the arrival of hybrids and electric vehicles from as early as 2020 onwards, will force manufacturers to look at local production.

This agreement could turn out to be the backbone for the recently launched FAME India policy (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) and will also give a substantial push to India’s ambition to have at least 30 per cent of its vehicles run on electric batteries by 2030.

India-Bolivia Sign 9 MoUs

During the state visit of the President Ram Nath Kovind to Bolivia the following 9 MoUs were signed:

  • Agreement on Exemption of Visa for Diplomatic and Official Passport holders to facilitate entry into either country of Diplomatic and Official Passport Holders without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in any period of 180 days.
  • Agreement to promote the development of academic cooperation in the training of diplomats, including structure and content and to update on international relations in the framework of the programmes and activities of the Parties.
  • Agreement to provide technical advice to deepen necessary studies; contribute to establish continuous cooperation between public and private companies on issues related to planning, construction and operation of the Corridor.
  • MoU on Cooperation in the field of Geology and Mineral Resources to promote and expand bilateral relations in the field of geology and mineral resources between the two countries based on principles of equality and mutual benefit on a long and enduring basis.
  • Programme of Cultural Exchange for the period 2019-21 to expand relationship in the field of culture through various activities and exchange of groups, artists, exhibitions and film festivals etc.
  • Agreement to establish the Centre of Excellence for Information & Communication Technologies for capacity building of Bolivian professionals and to encourage research and development.
  • MoU in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy to strengthen, promote and develop co-operation in the fields of traditional systems of medicine and homeopathy between the two countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
  • MoU between Indian Space Research Organisation and Agencia Boliviana Espacial on Cooperation in the exploration and the uses of outer space for peaceful purposes to develop organizational basis and effective forms of bilateral interaction and to promote the development of partnerships in the field of exploration of the outer space and application of space technologies for the benefit of the people of both countries.
  • Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance (ISA). Bolivia joins the International Solar Alliance to collectively address key common challenges to the scaling up of solar energy.

India has also offered 100 million US Dollar Line of Credit to Bolivia for financing development projects.