New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's visit to Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago Nov 6-11 is expected to boost bilateral ties between India and these two countries that have a large number of the people of Indian origin.
While there are over 325,000 ethnic Indians in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago is home to around 520,000 Indo-Trinidadians.
Most of them are descendants of Indians who had gone there in the 19th and early 20th centuries to work as indentured labour.
A highlight of the vice president's visit to Trinidad & Tobago will be the signing of a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement.
Shekhawat will also meet the presidents and prime ministers of both Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago besides other dignitaries.
Relations between India and Guyana have been growing rapidly ever since the latter reopened its embassy in India in December 2004.
Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, a person of Indian origin, visited India in 2003 and 2004.
Trade between the two countries in 2005-06 stood at Rs.1.5 billion ($335 million). Guyana received $54 million as concessional lines of credit from India.
And there is scope for more Indian investment in Guyana in sectors like mining and forestry. India's Bank of Baroda has a branch in Guyana.
The South American nation has also declared its support for India's candidature for the permanent membership in the UN Security Council.
Trinidad & Tobago, the most economically well off among all the Caribbean nations, will seek more Indian investments during the Indian vice president's visit.
Trinidad & Tobago Trade and Industry Minister Ken Valley has gone on record to say that his country will seek to secure investment pacts with India, especially for joint venture projects and for local investors who want to go to India.
Trade between Trinidad & Tobago and India stood at Rs.1.7 billion in 2005.
More and more Indian companies have started investing in Trinidad & Tobago. The Essar group is in the process of setting up a $1.2 billion steel plant. Lakshmi Mittal, the London-based NRI steel tycoon, owns a steel plant in that country. Asian Paints has also acquired a Berger Pains unit in Trinidad & Tobago.
There is also scope for Indian investment in the oil and gas sector in Trinidad & Tobago. That country produces 140,000 barrels of crude oil and 2.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day.