By Moncho Torres
New Delhi, Mar 31 (EFE).- Mexico is seeking deeper ties with India, the pharmacy of the world, after learning the hard way that it urgently needs to overhaul its health sector during that pandemic.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who is on a three-day visit to India, told EFE that the North American nation felt defenseless as the country waited for months to get its supply of Covid-19 vaccines during a critical phase of the pandemic.
“Mexico is going to tie up with India. We are already doing so. What was the main lesson from the pandemic? ‘We were left alone for eight months. Never in life will that happen again. That is why we are here,” Ebrard said in an interview.
Mexico has recorded 5.6 million cases of coronavirus and more than 322,000 deaths, the fifth-highest in the world.
And during the worst moments of the pandemic, the hospitals were overwhelmed with patients, many desperately craving medical oxygen.
To ensure it does not happen again, the delegation traveling with Ebrard will meet in New Delhi with representatives of pharma companies like the Serum Institute of India – the largest vaccine manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, and Biological E — the three manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Mexicans will also meet the Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research and the Indian Space Research Organization officials.
The Mexican minister will later travel to the financial capital of Mumbai for talks on Friday with senior representatives of the Indian automobile company Mahindra and the industrial conglomerate Tata Group.
“The delegation we brought has people from the technological field, start-ups, Mexican unicorns, because it is the kind of dialog that interests us, including the pharmaceutical ones, as well as research on immunotherapies against cancer. I think that (…) trade will grow, investment will grow,” said Ebrard.
After Brazil, Mexico is India’s second-largest trading partner in Latin America.
Bilateral trade between India and Mexico reached around $10 billion in 2018 before dropping due to the pandemic.
The minister said he was confident that Mexico would become India’s foremost Latin American partner. But he insisted that the exchange would not be driven by “food, but technology and manufacturing.”
“India is our ninth largest partner in terms of investment and trade. In this decade, India will easily become number five or six. It is a society where the economy is accelerating and we have to give it a strategic level.”
International politics is also on Ebrard’s agenda. He met his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday.
While Mexico and India are both non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, they have taken different positions in key UN debates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Mexico has supported Ukraine and its territorial sovereignty, while India, taking a more neutral stance, has avoided condemning the Russian invasion, mainly because of its strong defense ties with Moscow.
Ebrard underlined he “respects” the position of each country in the conflict, including that of New Delhi, but what unites them is their shared concern that “the multilateral order will fracture, polarize” and escalate to a level of polarization even worse than the 1980s.
“We do not want things to reach there and agree that a peaceful solution must be sought. Now everyone has their way of doing things and we are in very different regions of the world,” the Mexican minister said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will arrive in India for an official visit Thursday, the same day that Jaishankar will meet with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of the United Kingdom, Ukraine’s ally.