SANTIAGO — China has been one of Latin America's main trade partners in recent years, driving the engine of development in the region with a hungry demand for raw materials to help sustain the Asian giant's growth.
But the recent slowdown of China's economy has been felt acutely in the economies of several Latin American countries. In Peru and Chile, for example, where mining is a key industry, international price declines for minerals have discouraged investment and affected national growth expectations.
All of this makes clear that we must step up the search for new markets for our products on the global market that allow us to diversify risk. Given that, it's time to turn our attention in particular to a global giant that's expanding by the day: India.
India, which is on track to surpass China to become the world's most populous country, is currently the 12th largest economy. And though our trade relations with India have been more timid than those developed in China, some Latin American countries have been active in trying to step up bilateral relations with New Delhi.
Soybeans from Brazil are already exported to India. There are also Indian companies investing in mining in Chile and Peru. The energy and pharmaceutical industries are two particularly interesting areas for India, and the country has already engaged in business with Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina.
The software development sector has long been flourishing there, but other technology-based industries, such as like car and motorcycle manufacturing, are opportunities for trade. Companies like Tata, Bajaj and Hero are already offering their products in Argentina, Colombia and Peru, and at very competitive prices.
Peru is currently negotiating a wide-ranging free-trade agreement with India. Beyond its mining interests, including gold, silver and copper, India sees other products with great potential such as quinoa. This grain produced in the Andes is of great interest to a country like India, which has a huge demand for vegetarian food.
There are also Peruvian companies present in India, like Aje Peru, which has a soda bottle production site in the city of Maharashtra, and also Resemen mining machinery, which has established a branch in New Delhi.
For India, Latin America is still a small market, but one with great potential. Latin America is included in India's strategic planning for global growth. In 1997, India even created a formal program seeking to develop relationships with Latin American countries.
There's enormous opportunity for our region's entrepreneurs to increase trade with this up-and-coming global econoic giant. Doing so allows us to diversify our business risk and decrease what has been an unhealthy reliance on China. We may even learn to love Bollywood in the process.