Following the lead of China and the U.K., India has investments totaling $9 billion in Latino-Caribe based industries – a trend forecast by the Wall Street Journal as an upward spiral. Ravi Viswanathan, former Indian ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, guages the viability of Latin American investing.”
The way the Latin American economies have withstood the (financial) storm from the north is an indication of the new paradigm of stability and growth of the region.” Beginning with the 1989 acquisition by Mittal Industries of steel mills in Trinidad and Tobago, then the very subtantial investment in a steel plant in Mexico in 1992, Mittal opened a gate through which millions more Indian investment dollars would rapidly flow – the acquisition by ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) of an oilfield in Colombia for $425 million (a partnership with China’s Sinopec), the purchase for $410 million of offshore oil and gas exploration rights from Brazil by India’s premier petrol mini g concern, and Bolivia’s first steel mill will be constructed as the initial phase of a $2.3 billion contract won by the Jindal Group. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories of India purchased a pharmaceuticals plant in Mexico, with 6 other pharma acquisitions by India ventures in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela. Commodities (foods, livestock) are receiving heightened attention from Indian investors. Products such as sugar, soy, rice, and cotton are in rising demand. The down side of the rush of foreign investment in commodities is multi-faceted – cheap prices and cheap labor induce ‘land-grabbers’ syndrome, a malady that maligns the food production potential of countries that need increased domestic food production for the indigenous population at reasonable prices. Corporations (and smaller businesses)see huge profit potential in the Caribbean and Central America for targeted commodities produced in large- scale operations, then subsequently raise the price of these food/produce goods on the market – often pricing locally grown foods nearly out of the reach of those who are actually growing them! Local farmers go out of business, and are hired by the mega-corp to work on the plantations; their wages can barely provide the necessary foods for their families.
International observers cite India’s keen interest as a double-edged sabre: where there is great commercial excitement ,anticipation, and hefty foreign investment, there must be equally keen governmental oversight,and responsibility. The broader, optimistic outlook projects that India take the way of China in Africa by also partnering with its Latin American clients and their respective governments to improve the infrastructure of the cities and rural communities into which they are importing the clamor and challenges of their industry, ensuring that the people also taste the prosperity the India trade and investment surge is bringing to the lands they call home.