New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday met Bolivian Minister of Development Planning Sergio Armando Cusicanqui Loayza and discussed the avenues for strengthening trade and investment.

Taking to Twitter, the ministry said, "Union Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman met Bolivian Minister of Development Planning Mr. Sergio Armando Cusicanqui Loayza in New Delhi today. The two ministers discussed avenues for strengthening India-Bolivia #trade, #investment and economic cooperation. They agreed to encourage B2B linkages through respective chambers of commerce and industry."

India and Bolivia enjoy friendly and cordial relations. In 2019, the then-President of India, Ram Nath Kovind visited Bolivia, becoming the first-ever visit by an Indian president to Bolivia. Bolivia also conferred the highest State Honour of Bolivia on the President of India.

8 memorandum of understanding (MoUs) were signed between India and Bolivia concerning fields of culture, visa waiver for diplomats, the exchange between diplomatic academies, mining, space, traditional medicine, the establishment of the Centre of Excellence in IT and the Bi-Oceanic Railway project.

Both sides also agreed to work together for the exploration and extraction of the vast Lithium deposits of Bolivia.

Lithium is a key resource used in making batteries that India needs for its clean technology initiatives such as increased use of electric cars.

Under the framework of South-South Cooperation, India also gave a USD 100 million Line of Credit to Bolivia for financing development projects.

According to the Institute of Statistics of Bolivia (INEI), trade between India and Bolivia during the calendar year 2015 (January to December) was USD 315.249 million – exports from India to Bolivia were US USD 118.893 million and imports by India from Bolivia valued at USD 196.356 million.

During the same period in 2016, according to INEI statistics, the total trade was USD 228.791 million - exports from India to Bolivia were valued at USD 106.642 million (a decline of 10.3 per cent) while imports by India from Bolivia were valued at USD122.149 million (a decline of 37.79 per cent).

During the first four months of 2017 (January to April), the total trade as per INEI figures is valued at USD 200.475 million (Indian exports at USD 38.798 million; Imports by India from Bolivia at USD 161.677 million).

India mainly exports automobiles, iron and steel, pharmaceuticals, machinery, rubber and plastic products and yarns and textiles. It imports gold, leather, fertilizers and animal feed from Bolivia.