As the Indian cricket team and fans land on the beaches of the Caribbean, India has been hosting some 100 business visitors from the Central American and Caribbean region during the last few weeks. On the agenda are trade, investment and joint ventures across a range of sectors.
Although business activity between India and Latin America has grown manifold since India's reforms in the 1990s, the gains have gone mostly to the larger, mainland South American countries, where leading players like Essar Steel, Bajaj Auto, Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy's, NIIT etc have a strong presence.
Now, the smaller Caribbean and Central American countries want a share. "India has done what many thought was impossible," Francisco E. Lainez, El Salvador's Minister of External Relations, told a business gathering last week, "It is set to reach double-digit growth figures, and we want to share in the prosperity."
Gerry C. Brooks, CEO of Ansa McAl, and part of a business delegation from Trinidad and Tobago, says: "We in the Caribbean are keen to explore other emerging economies like India, whether to source cheaper raw materials and better technology, or to team up to explore other markets."
This mindset is typical of what R. Viswanathan, joint-secretary (Latin American Countries), Ministry of External Affairs, terms as "the emerging, new Latin America".
Business and ministerial delegations from Jamaica, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago have visited New Delhi and Mumbai so far this year. Many countries offer tax holidays and single-window clearance. Given the potential of the region, the Indian government has been actively promoting economic ties. The 'Focus LAC' programme has been on since 1997, in tandem with which the Exim Bank has been extending lines of credit to promote Indian exports.