SPEAKER: Dr. Ignacio Bartesaghi, Dean, Faculty of Business Studies & Director, Department of International Business and Integration, Catholic University, Uruguay
CHAIR: Ambassador Deepak Bhojwani, Former Ambassador of India to Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre
ABOUT THE EVENT
Trade relations between India and Latin American countries has deepened. Despite this improvement, India is far from being a key player in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries. By sector, LAC exports to India are largely focused on natural resources and primary products, including crude oil and biofuels, copper and other minerals, sugar, soy, and vegetable oil. Meanwhile, Indian exports to the LAC region are comprised largely of engineering goods (including auto parts), chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles and refined oil products. Although India-LAC trade is concentrated in the three largest economies in the region (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico), India has made significant advances with subregional blocs, as well as with individual countries. India has entered into preferential trade agreements with Mercosur and with Chile, and it is negotiating free-trade agreement with Peru. Given this context and the economic changes in China that is showing lower growth rates, trade relations are far from their potential and if more trade agreements are signed, trade ties could be strengthened.
India and the Mercosur signed a trade agreement in 2004 that is in force since 2009. Recently, there were several rounds of negotiations, which aimed at amplifying this agreement, but they failed. This negotiation confronted the difficulties that involve two actors who have applied very protectionist policies and have negotiated few trade agreements. However, we argued that India has a huge potential role at the global market based on recent economic and political change. India may gain ground where China is losing it. Some reforms, which were implemented in India, contributed not only to economic growth but also to improve the middle-class standard of living. Even when tariffs continues to be higher than other middle income countries, India has had the fastest fall in average tariffs of most major economies.
If the Mercosur and India will negotiate a deeper trade agreement, Mercosur countries have the potential to expand trade in processed foods, which now face high tariff levels and non-tariff barriers. On the other hand, India enjoys advantages in industrial goods, many of which are not produced within Uruguay but by its main partners in Mercosur. This reality implies that negotiations between the two actors will not be without difficulties.