India’s exports to Latin America increase by an impressive 48% to a record 18.9 billion dollars in 2021-22

Brazil continued as the # 1 destination of India’s exports to the region, with 6.49 billion dollars, an increase of 53% from 2020-21.

From India’s point of view, much depends on how IPEF aligns with the CPTPP and RCEP-type trading agreements.

 By Ambassador (retd) R Viswanathan

India’s exports to Latin America reached a record high of 18.89 billion dollars in 2021-22 (April-March), according to the Commerce Ministry of India.  The exports have increased by an impressive 48% from 12.74 billion dollars in 2020-21.

Brazil continued as the # 1 destination of India’s exports to the region, with 6.49 billion dollars, an increase of 53% from 2020-21.

Mexico was #2 with 4.42 billion dollars – an increase of 43%.

Argentina came back to claim the third position after many years, with 1.43 billion dollars – an incredible 107% increase from last year.

Colombia was #3 with 1.38 billion- increase of 59% from 865 million.

Chile joined the Billion Dollar Club for the first time with 1.18 billion, increasing by 47%.

The other major destinations were: Peru 898 million and Guatemala 552 m 

Exports to the other countries are in the table below.

Exports to the three major trade blocs in the region were: Mercosur were 8.28 billion, Pacific Alliance 7.88 bn, and CAFTA (Central America + Dominican Republic) 1.95 bn

India’s exports to some of the distant Latin American countries are more than the exports to neighboring countries or traditional trade partners with the same or more population. This is a trend of the last several years. Examples:

India’s exports of 552 million dollars to the distant Guatemala (population 11 million) are more than twice that of the exports of 198 m to the neighbouring Cambodia with a population of 16 million.

Exports of 318 m to the remote Honduras (population 10 m) are more than the exports of 235 m to nearby Kazakhstan with a population of 19 m.

Exports to Brazil (6.48 bn) are higher than to the traditional trade partners such as Japan (6.18 bn) and Thailand (5.7 bn)

Exports to Mexico ( 4.43 bn) are more than the exports to Canada ( 3.7 bn) and Russia ( 3.2 bn).  

Major exports

Vehicles     3835 m (increased from 2608 million dollars last year)

Chemicals 3139 m (2534 m last year)

Petroleum Products    2111 m.               

Machinery 1664 m                   

Pharma      1486 m                  

Textiles       1015 m                 

Cotton.         761 m               

Plastics.         518 m              

Iron and steel 905 m          

Aluminium products 688 m  

Rubber products 415 m.       

Car exports

Car exports to Latin America were 1793 million dollars. This was 30% of India’s global car exports of 5.92 bn dollars. Mexico was the second largest global market for Indian cars with 941 m.  Other major destinations: Chile 337 m and Peru 115 m

Motorcycles

Exports of motorcycles were 909 million dollars. This is 30.5 % of India’s global exports of 2.99 bn. India was the second largest supplier of motorcycles to Latin America.

Major destinations were Colombia 309 million dollars,  Mexico 174 m, Guatemala 103 m and Peru 43 m. Colombia was the second largest global market for Indian motorcycles after Nigeria. Some years back Colombia was the # 1 destination. Indian brands are market leaders in Colombia and Guatemala.

Pharmaceuticals

Pharma exports increased to 1486 million dollars from 1196 m last year. India ranked as #6 supplier of pharmaceuticals to the region

Major destinations of India’s pharma exports:  Brazil 374 million dollars, Peru 105 m, Chile 153 m, Mexico 167 m, Colombia 103 m, Dominican Republic 67 m, Venezuela 102 m, Guatemala 64 m, Bolivia 46 m and Ecuador 34 m.

 India ranked as #3 supplier of organic chemicals to the region. 

Imports

India’s imports from Latin America were 25.62 billion dollars in 2021-22. Major suppliers were: Brazil 5.71 bn, Mexico 4.25 billion, Argentina 4.2 bn, Peru 2.71 bn, Colombia 2.96 bn, Chile 1.37 bn, Bolivia 2.07 bn, Ecuador 1.01 bn and Dom Republic 649 m, Panama 292 m, Uruguay 162 m  and Venezuela 89 m

Main import items

Crude oil  9.18 billion dollars

Gold.        6.91 bn  

Vegetable oil.     4.34 bn

Copper    995 million dollars

Machinery  545 m

Wood        480

Chemicals 419 m

Iron and steel 321 m

Fruits & vegetables 285 m

Main sources of crude oil imports: Mexico 3.42 billion dollars, Brazil 2.25 bn, Colombia 2.32 bn and Ecuador 865 million.

Venezuela used to be the major source of oil imports in the region for the last fifteen years. But the US sanctions have drastically cut down the Venezuelan supply from its peak of around 10 billion dollars to just 89 m in 2021-22. There was no import in 2021-22.

Gold import sourcing: Peru 2.32 billion dollars, Bolivia 2.06 bn, Brazil 703 million, Dom Republic 600 m, Colombia 548 m, Argentina 465 m and Mexico 147 m.

Latin America is the main source of soy oil imports of India. Argentina, as usual, was the #1 global supplier of soy oil with 3.27 billion dollars, followed by Brazil 1.07 bn. 

Trade 2021-22

Figures in millions of US Dollars

CountryexportsimportsTotal trade
Brazil6489571312202
Mexico442542488673
Argentina142642015627
Peru89827073605
Colombia137729644341
Chile118213712553
Venezuela33489423
Bolivia11820732191
Ecuador30510121317
Dom Republic310649959
Panama348292640
Guatemala55221573
Uruguay151162313
Honduras31821339
Costa Rica14863211
Paraguay21116227
El Salvador1624166
Nicaragua10810118
Cuba27128
Total 188892561744506

Trade from 2010-11 to 2021-22

India’s exports had increased from 10.04 billion dollars in the beginning of the decade to 13.7 bn in 2014-15. But the Latin American recession and economic difficulties caused a dip in India’s exports in 2015-16. Since then the exports have increased steadily and in 2021-22 spectacularly.

India’s imports reached a peak of 31.38 billion dollars in 2012-13 due to the high crude oil prices and large volume of India’s imports from Venezuela. 

The annual India-Latin America trade in 2021-22 has exceeded the peak of 44.08 billion dollars in 2013-14

YearexportsimportsTotal trade
2021-2218.8925.6244.50
2020-2112.7414.9227.66
2019-2013.1820.6733.85
2018-1913.1625.738.89
2017-1812.124.436.45
2016-1710.419.630
2015-161019.729.7
2014-1513.729.343
2013-1412.7731.3144.08
2012-1312.4831.3843.86
2011-1211.3318.4229.75

Target – 30 billion dollars

Latin America is a substantial market with 19 countries, population of 620 million and GDP of 6 trillion dollars. The Indian exporters are still in the stage of discovery and exploration of the huge potential of the region.

The Latin Americans seek to reduce their overdependence on China with which there is a huge trust deficit. As part of their diversification strategy, they attach importance to the large growing market of India which was the 7th largest destination of their global exports in 2021. They exported more to India than to their traditional trade partners such as Germany, France or UK. India was the #1 destination of Latin American exports of vegetable oil, #3 for gold, #4 for crude oil and #8 for copper.

India could set a target of 30 billion dollars in the next four years. This is easily achievable if the Indian exporters and the government intensify their export promotion seriously and systematically with adequate investment.

(Author is an expert on Latin America. is an expert on Latin America. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).

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