India can be Latin America’s strategic partner: El Salvador vice president

By Nayanima Basu, IANS

New Delhi : India’s enviable economic growth and the globalisation efforts of its corporate sector make it a strong contender to become a strategic partner of Latin American countries, says visiting El Salvador Vice President Ana Vilma Albanez de Escobar.

Support TwoCircles

“India is an emerging power and it holds huge potential to become one of our strategic business partners,” said de Escobar, who is in India for the first time.

“Both the sides are increasingly identifying possibilities of greater business engagements,” de Escobar, who is on a visit here to attend the Partnership Summit and the Auto Expo, told IANS in an interview.

“Except for a few, most of the Latin American countries are not quite focussed on India.”

El Salvador, which is the third largest economy in Latin America, is now seeking more and more free trade initiatives with emerging economic powers like India based on exports and investments, she said.

“We want the Indian industry and prospective investors to come, see and explore the Central American market. We recently signed a free trade agreement with the US, so we are also offering duty free access to the world’s largest market.”

India and El Salvador currently share bilateral trade worth 20 million per year, which officials of both sides hope would grow exponentially once India sets up the proposed information technology centre there to help businesses.

El Salvador is also the third largest market within Latin America after Brazil and Mexico and the 10th largest for exports to the US from the region. Services contribute 65 percent to the economy.

The vice president of the Latin American country of about eight million people, who is also seen as the next head of state, said her country would open an embassy in India by the end of this year to facilitate faster visas for the business community.

Given the robust services market in El Salvador, the country was especially keen on investing in and collaborating with India’s booming outsourcing sector, as also in the electronics and automobile components industry.

She said El Salvador’s labour costs were 40 percent lower than that in Mexico, its closest country.

“We are currently studying the Indian market. Our businessmen are engaged at all levels possible with the Indian entrepreneurs for exploring business prospects in your business process outsourcing, electronics and also auto parts sectors.

“During my visit here, I’ve had considerable discussions with businessmen across sectors and I have noticed the keenness on the part of the Indian industry to learn more about the region,” she said.

El Salvador recently enacted the International Services Law to attract foreign direct investment to give 100 percent exemption from all kinds of taxes and duties till their operations are on, she explained.

The services that are covered by the legislation include logistics, outsourcing, research and development, software development, medical and maintenance and repair of aircraft.