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Closer Trade, Tourism & Energy Ties with Dom. Rep. and India?

Last October, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) met with Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs of India. UN Photo/Mark Garten
The visit of India's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, to the Dominican Republic this week could be a significant moment in the widening of a huge market for the Caribbean nation and for the region, asserted the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx).

Minister Tharoor is "one of the brightest younger stars in the Indian political firmament, and his name has been prominently mentioned as a candidate to be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations," said a CMEx director, Lelei LeLaulu, who believes "his unheralded four-day
visit could expand trade and other exchanges between the Dominican Republic and India."

LeLaulu, who will be a featured speaker at the large SATTE Travel Mart in New Delhi next week, told reporters that tourism, renewable energy and climate change will be highlighted during Tharoor's visit, "but trade will be big - especially as the Dominican Republic is part of trade pacts which ease exports to the United States of products manufactured or assembled locally."

Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to India, H.E. Hans Dannenberg agreed, "Our geographic location near the United States and the fact that we are members of three economic trade blocs - Central America, the Caribbean and North America - make us a natural strategic point for new Indian businesses who are looking at all three regions to expand."

Ambassador Dannenberg Castellanos, a former vice-minister of Tourism, saw complementalities in the tourism sector: "We have been training our nationals in all the different aspects of tourism - hotel administration, food and beverage, hospitality services, etc... and we could learn so much more from India on increasing our potential for cultural tourism or eco-tourism."

The changing face of airlines was also seen by the Ambassador as an opening, "There are now flights from the Middle East to Latin America, making travel to the region more accessible for those who don't have visas for transiting via Europe and the United States. We are trying to sign a Civil Aviation agreement and hope to see an Indian carrier flying directly to the Caribbean from India or via another country. The Dominican Republic is strategically located in the Americas, and can serve as a hub or connecting point to others in Latin America and North America."

Indian investors are looking for new markets to develop and adapt to fuel the energy demands of over a billion people. Investing in his country could benefit India, suggested the Dominican Republic Ambassador, as the Caribbean nation develops renewable energy generation technologies such as wind, ethanol and the highly innovative deep sea water for air conditioning: "We feel the technical expertise and managerial experience that we have accumulated have been and could well become a source of exchange between nations."

Minister Shashi Tharoor is a former under-secretary-general of the United Nations for Communications and is a widely published author of eight novels and biographies, including his acclaimed, "Nehru. The Invention of India". Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Tharoor used Twitter and social marketing in the last election and recorded one of the largest pluralities of any Member of Parliament.

The Caribbean Media Exchange provides a neutral platform for the continuing discussion of the key linkages between media, government, private sector and civil society in ensuring tourism enhances the health, environment, education, culture, and wealth of destinations in a climate-friendly fashion.