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India- a place to be in for Latin America

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2007 10:18 IST
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India has become the place to be in for antipodal Latin America as more countries from that region get ready to open missions in India, bringing in more business, soccer and samba beats.

Costa Rica will be opening its embassy in Delhi by June. Guatemala will follow suit soon. Brazil has already set up a consulate in Mumbai.

Of the 19 Latin American countries, 13 already have their missions in Delhi, said R Viswanathan, India's chief point person for Latin American diplomacy.

Guyana, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and Ecuador have opened their embassies in India over the last two years.

"Latin America's economic performance is indeed impressive and has now become relatively more resistant to external shocks and vulnerabilities," Viswanathan said.

"Brazilian GDP has already crossed $1 trillion. And given the new technology and marketing strategy it is deploying, none can stop Brazil from becoming an agricultural superpower," Viswanathan, joint secretary in charge of Latin America and the Caribbean division in the external affairs ministry, said.

He is confident that if India steps up its economic diplomacy with Latin America, bilateral trade can more than double from $9 billion to $20 billion by 2010.

"India's economy is growing fast and is being seen in Latin America as a rising power. Latin American countries are also doing well economically and are looking at business opportunities in India afresh," said Viswanathan, while explaining this surge in Latin America's interest in doing business with India.

Brazil, a world's leader in eco-friendly ethanol fuel, plans to tap the huge and energy-deficient Indian market, he said.

A CEOs forum comprising top corporate honchos from India and Brazil will be launched during Brazilian President Lula da Silva's visit to India in June.

Some major brand names in Indian industry like Mittal Steel and Videocon in Mexico and ONGC Videsh Limited in Colombia and Brazil have set up their base in the region.

Nuclear energy is yet another future area of cooperation between India and Brazil, an influential member of the four-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

It's not just business that is building sturdy bridges between India and Latin America. The real challenge is to bridge what Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, during his recent visit to India, chose to call "knowledge gap" between people separated by vast distances.

Sensing this knowledge deficit, Brazil has decided to launch a grand two-month long cultural festival in India next year.

The cultural potpourri on offer will include an impressive exhibition of 20th and 21st century Brazilian art and fusion music blending the best in music cultures of the two countries, a top Brazilian official, who will be closely involved with the cultural festival said.

It will not be just highbrow art, but will also have a healthy dose of popular art, which is seen in Brazil as a means of people's empowerment. The idea is to catch the attention of people and get them interested in Brazil, a country two-and-a-half times the size of India, he said.