KOLKATA: In a challenging global environment, India seeks to reach out to newer markets by strengthening ties with the Latin American countries (LAC), riding on trade-opening negotiations between the LAC and several major and emerging economies of the world, according to an EEPC India latest publication.

“Trade negotiations are on the anvil by several LAC economies to promote trade with major economies and emerging markets of the world including India to reduce trade barriers and attract investment. This is an appropriate time when Indian SMEs and MSMEs can rise up and significantly contribute towards enhancing bilateral trade with LAC,” noted the ‘Doing Business in Latin America and the Caribbeans’ publication brought out by the organisation.

Releasing the publication, on November 22 in New Delhi, commerce secretary Mrs Rita Teotia said “There exists a number of preferential trade agreements between India and various other countries of this region. India is desirous of consolidating and expanding such agreements to boost our trade and commerce.”

India’s increasing focus on building ties with the LAC region has helped two-way trade to increase from $2 billion some15 years ago $32.59 billion in 2015. India’s trade with the region includes everything from soybeans to aircraft to minerals. Further, the region has come up as a major contributor to India’s energy needs, accounting for 20% of total crude oil import. India and Latin American countries have also come closer in terms of investments. Companies from India, including mining, metals, agriculture, petro-chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and plane parts, have invested over US$12 billion.

The major exports from India goes to Central America (58.36%) followed by South America (27.56%) and Caribbean Region (8.64%). India’s trade with Latin America has grown exponentially this century, from less than $ 2 billion in 2000 to approximately $32.59 billion in 2015.India imported almost $21.66 billion and exported around $10.93 billion worth in 2015.

More than 100 Indian companies have invested over $12 billion in the LAC region across a wide variety of industries, including mining, metals, agriculture, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and manufacturing. Among the leading Indian investors, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, United Phosphorus, Videocon (television), and ONGC Videsh, Jindal Steel & Power and Essar Steel are to name a few, said EEPC India executive director & secretary, Mr Bhaskar Sarkar.