India's ties with Latin America have received a clear direction since 2015. Latin America and the Caribbean are the source of 20 percent of this country's crude imports. Right from the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the leaders of 11 Latin American countries in 2016 on the margins of the BRICS Summit in Brazil, the new government has kept up a steady engagement with high-level visits.
India imports 20 percent of its crude from Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico and Brazil. In 2012, India overtook China as the largest Asian buyer of Venezuelan crude. India's trade with LAC has grown from less than $2 billion in 2000-01 to $46 billion in 2013-14.
The advantages of close commerce with the Latin America region are many:
- It has a combined GDP of $5.5 trillion.
- It has a population of around 600 million.
- It comprises of six percent of the world's merchandise trade.
- It received US$179 billion of FDI in 2013, the highest record for any region in the world.
- It is also a peaceful region, with few inter-state conflicts.
Unlike China that is pouring in billions of dollars in infrastructural investment in the energy and commodity-rich region, India - like in Africa - is taking the human resource route by upgrading skills and imparting technological education to the needy population in some of these countries.
- India has reached out to the region by setting up centres of excellence in IT.
- India is also setting up vocational training centres in Jamaica and Belize.
- India offered a $15 million line of credit.
- India, a cricket loving nation, has also provided the floodlights at the famous Sabina Park Cricket Stadium in Kingston.
About Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is a regional bloc of Latin American and Caribbean states created in 2011, in Caracas, Venezuela, with the signature of The Declaration of Caracas. It consists of 33 sovereign countries in the Americas representing roughly 600 million people. Due to the focus of the organization on Latin American and Caribbean countries, other countries and territories in the Americas, Canada and the United States, as well as the territories of France, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom in the Americas are not included.
CELAC was created to deepen Latin American integration and by some to reduce the significant influence of the United States on the politics and economics of Latin America. It is seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), the regional body that was founded by United States and 21 other Latin American nations originally as a countermeasure to potential Soviet influence in the region. CELAC is the successor of the Rio Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC).