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Bid to boost exports to Latin America

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, March 18

IN a bid to further strengthen trade ties between India and the Latin American countries (LAC), the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, will lead a Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) delegation to the LAC region for a fortnightly tour beginning April 1.

Inaugurating a Indiameet (Indo-LAC), organised by the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) here, he said that the Government's policy shift in terms of higher focus on the LAC region over the last few years has yielded some results.

"Our over-dependence on the developed markets of the US, European Union and Japan had created a point of stagnation for our exports. The paradigm shift in policy in the form of focus-LAC has resulted in a substantial increase in trade with the LAC," he said.

Mr D.K. Mittal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told presspersons that India's merchandise exports to the LAC region, comprising 43 countries, is expected to touch a level of $1.4 billion during the current fiscal as against an exports level of $950 million in the previous year.

"We expect our exports to the LAC to touch a level of $3 billion per annum in the next two years. Imports from the LAC to India is currently about $1 billion," he said.

India's exports to the LAC region during fiscal 2001-02 comprised mainly of engineering goods ($250 million), drugs and pharmaceuticals ($250 million) and diesel ($100 million).

He also said that the drafts of the preferential trade agreements have been exchanged between India and Colombia, Venezuela and Chile. "We hope to finalise the bilateral pacts with these three countries in the next six months," he said.

Mr Mittal also said that transaction costs with the LAC countries are bound to further come down as trade volume increases. "Already the freight cost for containers have come down from $600 per tonne to $200 per tonne on account of increase in two-way trade in the last two years," he said.

Mr Satish K. Dhanda, Vice-Chairman, EEPC, said that the council was confident that India's exports of engineering merchandise to the LAC would touch a level of $1 billion per annum in the next five years.

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