Latin American countries closer to India in
trade than some traditional trade partners.
America.. hmm … too far. This is a typical dismissing comment of some Indian
businessmen who have the old mindset that distance is a barrier for trade. They
also presume that Latin American countries are less important for India's trade
in comparison to European countries and the traditional trade partners. Here is
a surprise for them. India does more trade with the distant Latin American countries
than with some of the neighboring countries as well as European and Asian
countries considered as close trading partners. This is evident from the
following 2014-15 (April-March) statistics of the Indian Ministry of Commerce.
trade with Venezuela ( $12 .24 billion ) and Brazil ( $11.36 billion) in
2014-15 were more than her trade with close neighbors Sri Lanka ($7.4 billion),
Bangladesh ( $ 7 billion), Thailand ($9.3 billion) and Vietnam ($9.2 billion)
as well as with traditional partners France ( $9.4 billion) and Netherlands (
had more trade with Mexico ($ 6.25 billion) than with Nepal ($ 5.2 billion),
Egypt ($ 4.7 billion) Canada ($5.9 billion), Italy ( $5 billion),
Spain ( $ 5.1 billion) and Israel ($5.6 billion).
with Chile ($ 3.65 billion) and Colombia ($ 3.24 billion) were more than with
Ukraine ( $2.58 billion) and Sweden ( $ 2.48 billion). Argentina accounted for
more trade with India ($ 2.45 billion) than Myanmar ($ 2 billion).
with Peru ($ 1.41 billion) was more than with Ireland ( $1.29 billion). Ecuador
($ 1.29 billion) had more trade with India than Portugal ( $ 0.78 billion), Austria
($1.17 billion), Norway ($ 1.26 billion), Denmark ($1.18 billion), Kazakhstan
( $ 0.95 billion), Morocco ( $1.24 billion) and New Zealand ( $ 0.91 billion). Trade
with Dominican Republic ($ 432 million) was more than with Bulgaria ($370 million).
import of crude oil from the far off Venezuela in 2014-15 was $12 billion while
it was just $ 11bn from Kuwait and $11.4 billion from UAE, which are closer
India exported more to Brazil ( $5.96 billion) than to Japan ( $5.4 billion),
Republic of Korea ($4.6 billion), Malaysia ($5.8 billion ), Indonesia ( $ 4 billion),
Thailand ( $ 3.4 billion), Nepal ( $ 4.5 billion), France( $4.9 billion),
Italy($5 billion), Spain ( $3.1 billion), Turkey ( $ 5.3 billion), Egypt ( $3 billion),
and South Africa ( $ 5.3 billion).
exports to Mexico ($ 2.8 billion ) exceed those to Russia ( $ 2 billion),
Australia ( $2.78 billion) and Canada ( $ 2.2 billion).
exported more to Colombia ($ 1.1 billion) than to Switzerland ( $1.06 billion).
Peru was a more important destination ( $ 820 million) for Indian exports than
Myanmar ( $ 773 million), Bhutan ( $ 337 million), Sweden ( $ 740 million),
Portugal ( $ 636 million), Ireland ( $ 759 million), Austria ( $ 363 million),
Ethiopia ( $ 783 million) and many Central and East European, Central Asian and
some European Union countries.
to Chile ( $566 million) were more than exports to Austria ( $ 363 million),
Greece ( $361 million), and Czech republic ( $ 328 million). Exports to Panama
($ 302 million) and Guatemala ( $ 229 million) were more than exports
to Cambodia ( $143 m), Maldives ( $152 million) and European
Union countries such as Slovak Republic ( $ 104 m), Slovenia ($ 212 million),
the Baltic countries and some Central Asian countries such as Armenia ( $ 91 million),
Azerbaijan ( $ 110 million), Belarus ( $ 48 million) and Georgia ( $ 86 million).
is interesting to note that India exported vehicles worth $ 1.8 billion to
Latin America. Mexico is the top destination for India's car exports which
reached $ 780 million in 2014-15. Motorcycle exports to Colombia were $270 million.
Latin America is a large market of 582 million people, GDP of 6.2 trillion
dollars and average per capita income of $11,000.
India's trade of $ 43 billion in 2014-15 has the potential to reach $ 100 billion.
India's exports of $ 13 billion could be doubled by 2020 if the Indian
exporters target the region seriously and systematically.
R. Viswanathan is a Distinguished Fellow
of Latin America Studies at Gateway House (Indian
Council on Global Relations ). From 2007 to 2012 he served as India’s
Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. That followed three years as
Head of the Latin America Division in the Ministry of External Affairs of India
and as Ambassador to Venezuela (2000-2003) and
Consul General of India in Sao Paulo (1996 to 2000).