Contributed by Ministry of External Affairs
(Latin America and Caribbean Division)
1. India is an emerging economy with its growing contribution to the world economy and strengthening linkages between emerging and developing economies through South-South trade, investment and cooperation. A new India and a new Latin America have emerged in the twenty first century with positive paradigm shift in the markets and mindsets, promising growth and prosperity. India and the region share democratic values, a history of colonialism, a challenge to fulfill the aspiration of the people and with some countries bonds of ethnicity and language covering other common threads.
2. Our strategy is to enhance our political, economic and commercial engagement with all the countries of the LAC region. The region is important to us for our energy and food security needs. Securing market access for our value added exports, diversification of our export basket, securing India’s investments and the interests of Indian businesses and encouraging investments from the region are also important aspects of this strategy.
- Over the last few years our relations with the region both in terms of our political engagement has intensified significantly, beginning with the landmark visit of Prime Minister Modi to Brazil in July 2014 and his meeting with South American leaders. This further got enhanced in 2016 with PM’s visit to Mexico on 8 June and his meeting with H.E. Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico. He has also met H.E. Mr. Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina twice on the sidelines of G-20 and held bilateral summit meeting with H.E. Michel Temer, President of Brazil on 17 October when he visited India for the BRICS Summit in Goa. Ensuing these high level visits, exchange of visits and meetings at ministerial level has given an impetus to our relations.
- An awareness about products’ market and opportunities which needed to be created to help business communities, was fulfilled with the holding of 7th India-Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Conclave on 28-29 November, 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico by CII and MEA in association with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) and the Government of Jalisco, Mexico. The Conclave was inaugurated by General V.K. Singh (Retd.) Minister of State for External Affairs. The Conclave was held outside India for the first time. Looking at the huge success with the participation of some 300 delegates from India and the LAC region, we propose to hold another one in the near future.
- India has become an important export destination for Latin America with crude oil, minerals and vegetable oil being the major items. India is the largest importer of pulses in the world. Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, vehicles, auto parts, diesel and plastic products are the main exports of India to the region. India is a major supplier of generic medicines, bulk drugs, software and chemicals to Latin America. India is the third largest supplier of textiles and the fourth largest supplier of readymade garments to Latin America.
- Efforts are being made to harmonize our trade relations which has brought the two regions closer than ever before in terms of trade and investments. India-Chile PTA being the most significant milestone among the preferential trade agreements with LAC region. India-MERCOSUR PTA is getting momentum. There is also a proposal to initiate the process of negotiation with Peru for a Free Trade Agreement.
- Indian companies are active in the region and have started investing in different sectors from oil, automobile to sugar. However, we feel that both trade and two way investments remain much below potential. Latin American companies, especially the small and medium ones need to explore the business opportunities in the Indian market correlating our ‘Focus Latin America and Caribbean’ program of India with a ‘Focus India’ strategy.
- India attaches utmost importance to its interaction with the regional groups viz. prioritizing relations with CELAC, CARICOM, SICA, Pacific Alliance and MERCOSUR. An India-CELAC Joint Declaration adopted for establishment of permanent mechanism for political dialogue in 2016 charts out the road map in strengthening our dialogue process. India shares historic and civilization links with the Caribbean region. India values and attaches very high importance to its relations with CARICOM. Two meetings at Foreign Ministers level and Joint Commission meeting have been held with CARICOM whereby many areas of cooperation have been identified. India-CELAC Quartet and CARICOM Ministerial meetings are being held on the sidelines of UNGA in September, 2017.
- Latin America and India have a lot in common culturally with a variety of ancestries, ethnic groups and races. The presence of about one million diaspora in the LAC region contributing further to enhancement of our relations in cultural and people to people contact programmes adds the special dimension to our relationship. Latin American literature is on top of global map. Contemporary literature in this region is vibrant and varied and has proudly won to its credit various Nobel Prizes for both literature and poetry. Some welcome developments in the recent past have been making of a film on Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, “Thinking of Him” co-production of Argentina and India, the second one is translation of Surinamese book, “Kahe Gaile Bides” (Why did you go overseas) from Spanish to English. For the first time, an Indian hero has emerged in a Costa Rican film “Enredados : la confusion” (Entangled : the confusion). We look forward to many more such interactions.
- The International Day of Yoga, 2017 was celebrated consequently for the third year in large scales in all the countries of the region with participation at highest political levels thus showing their integration in the initiative taken by India. It is encouraging that Heads of Mission of the region including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico actively participated in Yoga sessions conducted by Ministry of AYUSH. Education is another area with wider scope and institutional and educational exchanges both at intellectual and student levels will be welcome. To encourage greater and easier travel to India, beginning November 2014, the government launched the E-visa scheme. The scheme was extended to an additional 37 countries, which will take the total number of beneficiary countries to 150 which include all the Latin American and Caribbean countries. We look forward to further strengthening our relations with the region.