India has become the flavour of Latin American countries this winter, with a host of high-level visits planned between now and early next year, both ways. Besides large business delegations from the region, top leaders also will be visiting soon. Leading a high-level official and business delegation, minister of commerce and industry Suresh Prabhu will be leaving for Cuba. Indian business will participate in the FIHAV, an international fair for all sectors that takes place annually in Havana, Cuba. A big delegation from Chile led by former president Eduardo Frei (extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Chile on special mission to the Asia-Pacific Region) is already in India, accompanied by a large business delegation. “The visit is important as it comes after the operationalisation of the India-Chile expanded Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) earlier this year,” a diplomatic source told FE.
The focus of the delegation during meetings in New Delhi and Mumbai will be on the investment opportunities post-expanded PTA between the two countries, and identifying new areas for future investments. New Delhi will receive a large official delegation from Colombia’s ministry of commerce next month. This, according to officials, is a preparatory visit ahead of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’s visit next year. According to a diplomatic source, the dates for the visit of Santos are still being worked out, “Most likely it will be in the first quarter of the next year,” he said. Early next year, India will be hosting Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto. “Due to a major earthquake in Mexico City recently, the visit of President Peña Nieto has been moved to the first quarter of next year,” according to sources.
Prabhu will be going back to the region in December for the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ministerial meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the first ever to be hosted by a South American nation. According to reports, India, with an eye on food security, is expected to focus on ensuring that there a permanent solution on public stock-holding subsidies. This is sign of India’s growing importance for South American countries, which look at the Indian market as very important and lucrative. India’s commercial relationship with the LAC region has over the past decade increased multifold, reaching a peak of $50 billion in trade and $20 billion in Indian investment in the region. Latin America is now India’s largest destination of car and motorcycle exports, and the LAC region is becoming a hub for Indian IT companies. India is one of the top buyers of Latin America’s vegetable oils, mining and mineral products, and crude oil.