Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley presents a token of appreciation to Ambassador of India to the Republic of Suriname, Shri S. Balachandran, during their courtesy call at Ilaro Court on Monday. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

A number of areas for opportunity and cooperation between Barbados and India were discussed when Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley met with Ambassador of India to the Republic of Suriname, Shri S. Balachandran, at Ilaro Court on Monday.

They were joined by Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Alies Jordan, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Simone Rudder.

Among the areas discussed was improving connectivity between Barbados and India with the possibility of a direct flight that could feed the southern and eastern Caribbean.

In addition, the possibility of establishing an Institute of Technology in Barbados to benefit students of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology and the Barbados Community College, and vaccine manufacturing were also discussed.

The diplomatic envoy, who is also the High Commissioner-designate to Barbados, also shared that a number of scholarships were available for public servants seeking to do short term courses for a two to three-month period, and students generally from Bachelor’s to doctoral degrees.

He added that there was also a US$10 million fund which Barbados could access to fund various projects.

High Commissioner Balachandran said he looked forward to deepening relations with Barbados, and encouraged a delegation to visit India. He expressed his delight in visiting Barbados, noting it was a beautiful country.

Prime Minister Mottley thanked the High Commissioner for Indian’s generous donation of 100,000 vaccines during one of the hardest periods of the pandemic when no other countries with the capacity to manufacture vaccines were paying any attention to small island developing states. 

Ms. Mottley also urged High Commissioner Balachandran to set out the areas of opportunities available to see how best they could be utilised.

She added that the ability to bridge the relationship between India and the Caribbean was critical, particularly as people of Indian descent constituted a large part of Barbados.

In addition, Prime Minister Mottley suggested that given the time difference between the two countries, there could be cooperation in areas that serve the information communication technology sector.

Ms. Mottley also invited the High Commissioner to submit information on opportunities for producing electric vehicles in India, and the possibility of establishing an assembly plant, particularly as Barbados has offered citizens a tax holiday on the purchase of electric vehicles.

She noted that the similarities between the two countries were great, particularly in the areas of language, life science, and information and communication technology. “I believe we can be strategic in our relations,” Ms. Mottley said, noting that there was a lot to be done in both countries.

Barbados and India established diplomatic relations on November 30, 1966.

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