India – Latin America Relations | UPSC Notes

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India - Latin America Relations | UPSC Notes

India-Latin America Relations


  1. Prof Varun Sahni
    1. LA has featured sporadically & largely symbolically in IFP
    2. It is like ‘out of sight, out of mind’, mainly bcz—LA is distant Geo and thus, conceptually & diplomatically too.
  2. Shashi Tharoor—LA has long been the “Forgotten continent” in India
  3. “Last frontier” of IFP 


  1. Cold War—LACs under US hegemony, while India NAM
  2. Indira visit in 1968– she described it as “voyage of discovery.”
  3. End of C.W + emergence of democracies + Emergence of ‘Brasilia Consensus’ + Opening of India’s economy—New Vigour in Rel.
  4. Credit for est linkage with LA goes to Private sector, i.e, Unlike “Trade follow flag”, in case of LA “Flag followed the trade”.


  1. Observer status in Pacific Alliance
  2. Strategic partnership with Brazil
  3. Privileged partnership with Mexico
  4. Imp partner in India led ISA 
  5. UNSC, NSG, CC, terrorism, trade, etc.

Economic Relations— 

  1. Trade grown over 30% annually b/w 2000 & 2014—Trade—$30 bl in 2017-18. (China $308 bl).
    1. Complementary nature of economies—LA has surplus of Resources + India provides a large market for their exports.

India’s imports:

  1. Food Security— oilseeds & pulses, Veg oil etc
  2. Energy Security—imports 15% of crude oil—Venezuela, Argentina (Shale gas)
    1. LA’s principal oil market was US. But shale Rev in US— oil imports declined—so LA looks towards India (2nd largest oil importer from the region)
    2. Also India is imp to reduce dependence on China
  3. Minerals— Copper, Gold, Li for EVs

India’s exports

  1. Textiles & ready-made garments 
  2. IT Service , Pharma, Automobile

Whether India is not engaged ?

  • India is perceived to be less engaged due to distant geo. However, Amb. R Visvanathan—LA is closer to India than you think”.
    1. Trade with distant Brazil > with BD, Rus
    2. Exports to Mexico > Russia, Canada
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  1. Amb. Deepak Bhojwani –
    1. Pol rel r cordial but seldom ascend levels of strategic empathy.
    2. Lck of any ‘issues’ paradoxically results in a corresponding lack of engagement
  2. Harsh V. Pant—
    1. Despite a highly energetic outreach to rest of world, India still relegates LA to the backwater of diplomacy
    2. India’s eminence is rising on the global stage but this has not yet found an expression in LA
  3. Physical connectivity— however This does not deter China
  4. Lack of uniform approach towards the region— confined to Brazil, Mexico, Chile.
  5. Exponentially growing Chinese influence in the region— Target of $100 bl in trade & $250 bl investment by 2025
  6. Rivalries b/w Brazil & Argentina for regional dominance is also affecting India’s relations with the region.

Ex—India & Brazil are part of G4, Argentina is part of the coffee club 

+ve signs

  1. Inter-America Dev bank report (2011)- projected India as the next big thing in LA.
  2. Prof. Sreeram Chaulia—India is although a latecomer to LA, but it is seen as a softer benign power for reducing overdependence on China.

Way Forward

  1. Look beyond Brazil in LA 
  2. Shyam Saran—
    1. Critical support of Brazil, Mexico & Argentina, enabled to obtain NSG waiver
    2. As middle powers these countries will be significant partners in any middle power coalition India would want to construct to press its preference for a multipolar order
    3. India needs a LA strategy—An India- LA summit should remain on our diplomatic horizon. 


  1. The Indian elephant has already engaged the tigers of Asia. It is now the turn of the pumas of the Pacific . 
  2. India must engage with the region on a consistent rather than on ad-hoc basis, as Prof. Sreeram Chaulia Says LA is the final frontier where India is yet to live up to its aspirational tag of ‘leading power’.  
  3. Amb. Amitava Tripathi— There are enormous opportunities. Virtually sky is the limit.
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