Time ripe for India Inc to invest in Latin America: Envoy

November 12th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) With Latin American economies largely insulated from the global financial tsunami, the time is ripe for India Inc to invest in the region and turn the crisis into an opportunity, says India’s envoy to three countries there.”While talking about the new China-India phenomenon, the Latin Americans tend to have a bias towards India,” says R. Viswanathan, India’s ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

“Indian businessmen should take advantage of the current situation in Latin America which is looking towards Asia more seriously than ever,” he says, in his assessment of the Latin American market in the wake of the global financial crisis and slowdown.

Viswanathan says Latin Americans, like others, are dazzled by the spectacular growth of China, but relate themselves more to India in terms of their problems, as the South Asian nation has shown that growth and transformation was possible in a democracy, despite challenges.

“There is a saying in Latin America ‘A Rio reveuelta, ganancia de pescador’ - it means, when the river is turbulent, the fisherman will gain,” he says, adding: “Simply put, every crisis is an opportunity.”

There are several reasons behind his conviction:

- Latin America can satisfy India’s requirements in some raw materials like copper, soy oil, and crude petroleum and sees their imports increasing in the coming years.

- This is a good time for Indian companies to acquire assets like farmland, mines, oil fields, forestry, and industrial units and expand their business in the region since risk-shy US companies are reducing their exposures globally.

- India exported $5 billion worth of goods to Latin America in 2007, which can be doubled over three years, given the large and growing market of 530 million people.

- India’s trade with the region was $11 billion in 2007, while the Chinese trade was $103 billion - up from just $12.6 billion dollars in 2000.

- Indian IT companies, having established software and outsourcing centres in there, employing 8,000 young Latin Americans, can explore more in this area as part of their new business model of providing 12 hours of service from Latin America, which is in the same time zone as parts of the US.

- Indian companies earlier had a “barrier mindset” in terms of language and distance while doing business with Latin America but now consider these two factors as advantages and can make better use of these factors.

“The way the Latin American economies have withstood the storm from the north is an indication of the new paradigm of stability and growth of the region. It is farewell to the boom and bust cycle of the past,” says Viswanathan.

“Latin Americans are frustrated with the protectionist trend in the US and Europe even while the latter are clamouring for the opening of the Latin American markets for their exports and investment,” he says.

The envoy also maintains that Latin Americans are disenchanted by the current dominant mood of doom and gloom in the West and the fear and paranoia in such countries.

“They contrast this with cheerful Indians and Chinese who are brimming with optimism and confidence. They are inspired by the Asian story of growth,” he says, adding the large and growing markets of the two countries are added opportunities.

“The Chileans and Argentines dream of putting one glass of their wine in the hands of each of the 500 million middle class people in India and China.”

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