Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 2nd 2015 Contents JULY 2 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
REGIONAL | BG19
Trend lines appear to be moving in
the right direction within a wide array
of sectors. India s trade with the region
has grown from less than US$2 billion
15 years ago, to US$46 billion between
2013 and 2014, and includes everything
from soybeans to aircraft to minerals.
Prime Minister Modi s home state of
Gujarat represents more than 60 per
cent of this US$46 billion total alone.
Latin America has also emerged as
a key contributor to India s energy secu-
rity. India now imports 20 per cent of
its crude oil from Brazil, Columbia,
Mexico and Venezuela by some esti-
In 2012, India overtook China as the
largest Asian buyer of Venezuelan oil.
This milestone was no accident. India
is one of the world s largest importers
of crude oil. For many years, New Delhi
was Iran s second largest purchaser of
Iranian crude, but was forced to curtail
its imports as the result of US and UN
sanctions targeting Iran s lucrative oil
industry over Tehran s nuclear program.
New Delhi was compelled to search for
alternate energy supplies. Latin Amer-
ica s vast energy reserves quickly came
into sharp focus, enhancing the region s
importance to New Delhi.
India s private sector has also invested
billions of dollars into Latin America,
sharply increasing trade flows and
expanding India s global brand. The
country s leading companies have
become a ubiquitous presence in the
region. India s steel giant, Jindal Steel
& Power, has invested US$2.3 billion
in an iron ore mine in Bolivia, the largest
foreign direct investment project in
Bolivian history. In T&T, Essar Steel is
in the process of constructing a 2.5 mil-
lion ton steel plant. More than one hun-
dred Indian companies have invested
over US$12 billion in Latin America
across a wide variety of industries,
including mining, metals, agriculture,
petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, plas-
tics and plane parts.
India also constitutes one of the
largest suppliers of Information Tech-
nology services to Latin America. In
2002, India s famed Tata Consulting
Services, established a Global Delivery
Centre in Montevideo, Uruguay. Of the
14 Indian companies operating in
Argentina, half are focused on IT-related
services. According to some estimates,
over 35,000 Latin Americans are now
employed at Indian IT companies oper-
ating in the region. New Delhi is also
actively promoting official policies
intended to further expand Indian IT
services in Latin America.
The depth and scope of this eco-
nomic activity in Latin America demon-
strates the extent to which the region
has arisen as a stable, attractive and
viable market for Indian investment.
But beyond mere economic consid-
erations, geopolitics is another factor
explaining India s newfound warmth
toward Latin America. Although India
has steadily expanded its footprint there
over the past several years, it is still
dwarfed by China s immense presence
in the region. Chinese trade with Latin
America is projected to hit US$500 bil-
lion over the next ten years, while Chi-
nese investment is predicted to cross
the US$250 billion mark during the
China has aggressively spent billions
of dollars to finance infrastructure, pro-
vide credits and export goods to Latin
America. It has far surpassed India in
its engagement with this fast-rising
region of the world by virtually every
metric. As a result, India s approach to
Latin America is considered more meas-
ured and cautious.
Although some regard India s
approach as too timid, others view it
as strategic and calculated. Beijing s
aggressive, multibillion-dollar strategy
in Latin America has triggered backlash
in some quarters throughout the region.
Many Latin Americans resent the deluge
of Chinese imports flooding their mar-
kets and harming local businesses, while
many Latin American governments are
wary of becoming too dependent on
Beijing s largesse. By contrast, India s
modest trade and investment are wel-
comed with virtually no opposition.
This confers New Delhi with an unex-
pected, long-term competitive advan-
tage over China.
India-Latin America relations have
come a long way over the past several
years. By capitalising on the growing
momentum and budding progress
between them, India and Latin America
can build a strong, sustainable part-
nership and usher in a new, unprece-
dented era of cooperation.
A new era for India,
Caribbean tourism officials are pushing for a part-
nership with the US government because of concerns
that warming relations between the US and Cuba will
result in a significant loss of visitors to the rest of the
Cuba has seen such a surge in visitors that the fragile
budgets of many tourism-dependent islands will be
hit hard if they don t take action, Frank Comito, CEO
of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, said
"If we continue to operate business as usual, and
we all draw from the same pie and Cuba is in the
equation ... there will be serious economic and employ-
ment consequences," he said in a phone interview.
The association seeks to create a Caribbean Basin
Tourism Initiative to help boost investment and travel
across the region with help from the US The plan
would be modeled on the Caribbean Basin Initiative,
a US-led programme in the 1980s that sought to boost
trade in the Caribbean and Central America.
Comito also said the region should work together
to boost overall investment and travel to the Caribbean.
"It s a little idealistic, but I think you need an element
of that in this," he said. "A stronger Caribbean benefits
everyone, including Cuba."
The association proposes the plan in a report that
warns of Cuba s impact on the Caribbean and that
was sent to the US International Trade Commission.
The report calls the opening of travel to Cuba for
US visitors "the biggest and most disruptive pebble
to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years."
From January to early May, Cuba saw a 36 per cent
increase in US visitors from the same period in 2014.
It also had a 14 per cent jump in other international
arrivals, and Caribbean tourism officials say they expect
those numbers to keep rising.
"Those countries whose focus has been on the
United States as their primary source market and who
have not felt any competition from Cuba ... will be
surprised at how sophisticated and effective the Cuban
marketing machine has become," the report says.
The association said the islands where the tourism
business could be most affected are those closest to
Cuba --- Jamaica, Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.
It is unclear whether tourism officials on those
islands support the association s plan or whether they
have taken steps to help attract more visitors. Tourism
officials in Jamaica and the Bahamas did not return
messages for comment.
Cayman Islands Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell
issued a statement saying that opening Cuba to visitors
has increased people s awareness of the Caribbean.
"However, it is important to note that there are only
limited and very specific categories of American visitors
allowed to travel to Cuba, a barrier which the Cayman
Islands does not have in place," he said. (AP)
In this May 13, 2015, file photo, tourists ride a classic American convertible in Havana, Cuba. Caribbean
tourism officials are pushing for a partnership with the US government because of concerns that warming
relations between the US and Cuba will result in a significant loss of visitors to the rest of the region. Cuba
has seen such a surge in visitors that the fragile budgets of many tourism-dependent islands will be hit hard
if they don't take action, Frank Comito, CEO of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, said Wednesday,
June 24, 2015. AP PHOTO
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