Commerce secretary Rahul Khullar will lead a business delegation of engineering companies to Colombia and Panama on a five-day visit from Monday, “with an eye to explore the possibility of bilateral trade agreements” with the Latin American nations and to encourage India’s trade and investment in the region, a commerce ministry official said, requesting anonymity.
“Colombia and Panama are crucial for us as we are aiming to increase our trade ties with the Andean Community of Latin American countries,” the official said. The Andean Community is a customs union comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
India already has a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with the Mercosur bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay that came into effect in 2009 and covers around 900 products. A similar trade pact with Chile has been effective since 2007.
Exports to Latin American countries rose 72.5% in 2010-11 to $10.7 billion (Rs.49,327 crore), according to latest commerce ministry data. However, India shares a trade deficit of $3.2 billion with the continent, with imports growing at 34% to $14 billion during the same year.