In the Asia-Pacific region, India is Colombia’s third-largest trade partner with exports of around $1.042 billion, just $190 million short of Japan. It is expected that in 2018, India should overtake Japan in terms of exports to Colombia. Developments in the region could lead to an increase in India’s pharmaceuticals exports to Colombia, Ravi Bangar, ambassador of India in Colombia and Ecuador, tells Huma Siddiqui. Excerpts:
How are the trade between the two countries and which sectors have been identified for strengthening economic relationship?
Colombia is expected witness an economic growth of around 2%. If peace returns to the country, the growth rate could be 3%. The rise in oil and commodity prices could further boost the economy of Columbia. The presidential elections next month could to a large extent remove political uncertainty and improve confidence and stability and increase optimism. The country is expected to become a member of the OECD this year.
The volume of bilateral trade in 2107 was $1.277 billion. India’s exports to Colombia were $1.042 billion, an increase of 19.5%. Imports stood at $280 million. In the first two months of the current year, India’s exports were $171 million and imports $28.5 million.
What about India’s presence in the pharma sector?
The pharma sector is doing well. We expect it to do better with enhanced understanding of the efficacy, quality and price competitiveness of Indian pharma products among Colombian partners. New Indian pharma companies are entering the Colombian market. At the same time, the existing ones are registering their products with local regulatory authorities.
A large delegation from Colombia will take part in the 6th Exhibition of Pharma and Healthcare (IPHEX) 2018, organised by Pharmexcil from May 8-10 in New Delhi.
Which auto companies have set up their base in Colombia?
The auto and auto parts sector are doing well. Hero MotoCorp’s assembly plant is making more than 27,000 motorcycles. With the recent reforms in the legal framework of free zones, production could almost double.
The three-wheeler market, which is constrained by a local regulation which permits these to be used only for passenger transportation in areas with maximum population of 55,000, is also witnessing growth. Hero Electric is keen on introducing electric scooters in Colombia this year.
Have companies from Colombia set up any ventures in India as part of ‘Make in India’?
Colombia is a net inward FDI country and has few overseas investments. In the last two months, the embassy organised four trade and investment promotion events in Colombia and Ecuador. The events focused on the IT, pharma, agrochemicals, textiles, chemicals and auto sectors. Representatives of Indian companies made presentations at these events. This was done to achieve two purposes — enhancing profiles of Indian companies and instilling greater confidence among Colombian and Ecuadorean businesspersons to do more business with India. The results are encouraging and more such events are planned for this year.
The embassy has been encouraging leading Colombian companies to take advantage of the large and fast-growing Indian market and set up manufacturing or trade offices there. Soon, a local company is expected to enter India and make veterinary pharma products to meet local and global demand.
What about agri business?
Colombia is largely a producer of coffee, cocoa, sugar and flowers. In these sectors, Colombia has an edge and Indian agri sector could benefit from their expertise and experience. Colombia has shown interest in learning from India’s experience in water harvesting, drip irrigation, poly and glass houses.
What about the business agreement with Ecuador?
During the visit of commerce secretary Rita Teotia to Ecuador in May 2017, both sides showed interest in exploring possibility of an agreement which will address aspirations of the two countries to enhance commercial ties. Details are being worked out.