Bolivia seeks pact with Indian firms for lithium supply

Mumbai: With India likely to emerge as a major market for electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage, Bolivia, known to have the largest lithium reserves used for making batteries, is seeking partnerships with public and private firms to ensure reliable access to the metal.

The South American nation's ambassador to India, Sergio Dario Arispe Barrientos, said the country is also looking to sign a preferential trade agreement with India to create a framework to address issues pertaining to investments and markets.

"Given India's massive programme on becoming a leading player in the electric vehicles' space, Bolivia can address the demand for lithium, which is the key component for battery storage. There is a huge opportunity for both India and Bolivia to work together in this area," Barrientos told PTI.

He said Bolivia is also looking at partnering with Indian companies, both private and public. "If you associate yourself in Bolivia and produce value-added products here, you can ensure reliable access to this key material lithium," the ambassador said.

"We are looking at public-private or public-public partnerships, because we need to understand that cobalt and lithium are key commodities in creating batteries tomorrow and there is going to be a gold rush for them," he said.

Citing the massive escalation in prices of lithium, Arispe said the metal which used to cost $7,000 a tonne a couple of years ago has now jumped to $21,000 a tonne.

"If you have the volatile trend, you can't really say what the end consumers are going to pay for that battery. So you have to address that on a bilateral sense because if we can ensure market, we can ensure provision of the metal," he said.

"We can come to common grounds which is called fixing prices to avoid the market volatility. We can ensure a commitment to have a cheaper consumer-end project," he added.

Expressing hope on partnership with Indian firms, Arispe said that on the policy front, India is very aggressive in promoting EVs and energy storage by providing subsidy, incentives, mainly to be a world trend-setter.

"This gives us a great hope. We want to sign a preferential trade agreement with India in near future to create a legal framework that will permit and address certain securities from both the sides towards investment and markets," said Barrientos.

A preferential trade agreement is a pact between countries that provides preferential access to certain products by lowering tariff and other conditions.


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