Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Latin America will continue its growth in 2012- ECLAC Report

The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region had a GDP growth of 4.3% (estimate) in 2011 and is projected to grow by 3.7% in 2012 despite the continuing crisis in Europe, uncertain outlook in USA and the slow down of the Asian markets.

Both Imports and exports of LAC crossed the trillion dollar mark in 2011. Imports increased by 23% to 1.038 trillion dollars.

Foreign Direct Investment leaped to a record level of 130 billion dollars from 75 billion in 2010.

Foreign exchange reserves increased to 761 billion dollars as of October 2011 from 655 billion dollars in 2010.

The total external debt as a percentage of GDP declined to 19.2% in 2011 from 20% in 2010. The fiscal accounts of Latin America closed in 2011 with a small primary surplus.

These are the highlights of the 21 December 2011 report of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean ( ECLAC) based in Santiago. More from the report as follows.

GDP growth projection in 2012

Latin America and the Caribbean GDP is projected to grow by 3.7% in 2012 . South America is expected to grow by 3.9% and Central America by 3.5%.

The highest growth is projected for Panama (6.5%) followed by Peru and Ecuador at 5% each. Brazil is expected to grow by 3.5%, Mexico by 3.3%, Argentina by 4.8%, Colombia by 4.5%, Chile by 4.2% and Venezuela by 3%. El Salvador has the lowest growth projection of 2%.

GDP growth in 2011

The provisional GDP growth of LAC is estimated to be 4.3%. South America had grown by 4.6% and Central America by 4.1%. Panama had the highest growth of 10.5%. Argentina grew at a Chinese rate of 9%, in 2011 slightly down from its impressive 9.2% growth in 2010. Brazil, the largest Latin American market grew by 2.9% while the second largest market, Mexico grew by 4%. Colombia had increased its growth to 5.5% in 2011 from 4.3% in 2010. Peru had grown by 7% in 2011, down from 8.8% in 2010. Chile had increased its growth to 6.3% in 2011 from 5.2% in 2010. Venezuela recovered from its recession in 2009 and 2010 and showed positive growth of 4.2% in 2011.

The main driver for the growth is domestic demand and underpinned by high commodity prices and demand.


Both imports and exports of goods of LAC crossed the trillion dollar mark in 2011. The imports in 2011 reached 1.038 trillion dollars increasing by 23.5% from 846billion in 2010. Exports increased by 23.1% to 1.097 trillion dollars from 891 billion dollars in 2010. Among the major countries, Brazil´s imports increased to 228 billion dollars in 2011 from 182 billion dollars in 2010. Mexican imports in 2011 reached 352 billion dollars from 302 billion dollars in 2010. Argentine imports increased to 71 billion dollars in 2011 from 54 billion dollars in 2010.

Foreign Exchange Reserves

Foreign exchange reserves swelled by 106 billion dollars reaching a record 761 billion dollars as of October 2011 from 655 billion dollars in 2010. Argentina was the only major country which lost (5 billion dollars) reserves in 2011. Brazil's forex reserves were the highest with 353 billion dollars followed by Mexico-141 bn, Peru- 49 bn, Argentina-48 bn, Chile- 39 bn and Colombia-33 bn.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

The FDI reached a record level of 130 billion dollars in 2011 jumping from 75 billion in 2010. Brazil attracted 81 billion dollars in 2011 from 37 billion dollars in 2010. FDI in Mexico reached 9.8 9.8 billion dollars in 2011 from 6.2 billion dollars in 2010. FDI in Argentina fell to 3.9 billion in 2011 from 6 billion dollars in 2010. Peru was the third largest destination of FDI with 7.3 7.3 billion dollars in 2011. Chile received 5.9 billion dollars, Venezuela 3.6 billion dollars and Colombia 2.6 bn. It is noteworthy that Costa Rica had attracted 1.76 billion dollars of FDI in 2011 and had consistently been receiving over one billion dollars of annual FDI since 2006. Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Panama are the other small countries which have also been receiving over one billion dollars of annual FDI since 2005.

External Debt

The total external debt as a percentage of GDP declined to 19.2% in 2011 from 20% in 2010. Since 2010, the bulk of the debt of the government across most of the region has been domestic, in clear contrast to the situation in the past when external debt was more. In the case of Brazil, the ratio of external debt to GDP is 12.8% while for Mexico it is 18.3%, Colombia-21.3%, Peru-23.8%, Venezuela- 28.6%, Argentina- 31.5%, and Chile- 40.9%. The highest is in the case of Nicaragua, which is 56.7% but even this is very low in comparison to that of USA and many European countries. The total external debt of LAC stood at 1.03 trillion dollars in July 2011. Brazil's debt was 291 bn $, Mexico-206 bn, Argentina-133 bn and Chile- 98 bn.


The average rate of inflation of the region increased marginally to 6.9% in 2011 from 6.5% in 2010. But it is expected to decline in 2012. It may be noted that the rate of inflation has remained in single digit since 2003. In 2011, Only Venezuela and Argentina had inflation in double digits.

Fiscal Policy

The fiscal accounts of Latin America will close 2011 with a primary surplus of 0.3% after last year´s deficit of 0.3%. The overall deficit declined on average from 1.9% of GDP in 2010 to 1.5% in 2011. This slight improvement was the result of an increase in revenues of 0.4% of GDP, while spending remained nearly constant as a proportion of GDP. Most countries reduced their deficits, transformed them into surpluses, or expanded existing surpluses.

Exchange rates

In the first ten months of 2011, currencies of 11 countries in the region had appreciated but the trend has reversed since then.

Risks and Challenges

What will be the impact of deterioration of the European crisis?

Impact on Latin American exports will not be significant since Europe accounts only for an average of 13% of Latin American exports. Brazil is dependent upon Europe for 23% of its exports, Chile 21% and Argentina 17.8%. Mexico will be least affected since only 5.3% of its exports go to Europe. However, Latin American growth will slow down if the situation in Europe deteriorates further dragging the world into another crisis.

Slowdown in the US market will affect Mexico which is dependent upon USA for 80% of its exports. It will also impact Central America from whom US is the destination of about 40% of exports.

But the good news is that the Latin American policy makers are well prepared to deal with external shocks, having gone through such situations in the past and having learnt lessons from them. It may be recalled that the region rebounded more rapidly than expected from the impact of the 2008/2009 crisis. Most of the countries of Latin America find themselves in a reasonably well placed in macroeconomic terms to cope with the expected deterioration in the global economy and are in a strong position to weather external shocks of the kind a deepening of the debt crisis in the euro zone is expected to bring. Compared with many of the more developed countries, levels of external and public debt in the region are low and international reserves are high.

Latin America is in a happy position to say.. cheers 2012 ! This is also reconfirmation of the Decade of Growth for the New Latin America.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The New Latin America and The New India - seminar

¨Palabras de Pasion¨ ( words of passion) was the title of my opening speech in Spanish.
I said,
-The New India is the one in which a TCS nerd has the nerve to tell God ¨Why dont you outsource your mandate? TCS will do it at half the cost and twice the efficiency
- The New Latin America is the one which does not tremble when IMF officials visit. Now it is the IMF which trembles while requesting Brasil for funds to rescue Europe.
- The New Latin America sings
Dejanos imaginar
que no existe el pasado
que nacimos el mismo instante en que nos conocimos
Let us imagine
that there was no past
that we were born at the moment in which we met each other..
-India is more than a commerical partner for Latin America. It is a democratic partner with spiritual synergy ( Bikini- Bindi ) and cultural complementarity ( Soya and Yoga)
- Latin Americans come back from visit to india with their spirit and soul enriched. Indians return from Latin America...happier and younger. Some do not return...stay on ..fall in love .. and marry Latin Americans..
Full speech of 18 minutes in Spanish in Youtube

This seminar is the first of its kind. It is the first one which has covered commercial, economic, political and cultural aspects of the relations between India and Latin America comprehensively. We had put together economists, policy makers, businessmen, academics, diplomats and a journalist on the dais. The focus was on the future...promise and potential. Not wasting time on the forgettable past.
Osvado Rosales of ECLAC ( Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean based in Santiago - our partner in organising the seminar) released a new publication ¨India and Latin America and Caribbean- Opportunities and Challenges in trade and economic relations¨ This is the first- ever ECLAC publication on India. Here is their Press Release.
Their Press Release got wide coverage in Latin American media as well outside. The full report in their website.

Marisol Argueta, Head of Latin America and Senior Director of World Economic Forum ( former foreign minister of El Salvador) talked about ¨Latin America- the decade ahead¨ and recalled the conclusions of the last WEF Latin America Summit held in Rio in April 2011 which were optimistic about the prospects in this decade. She exhorted the Latin American policy makers to make use of this historic opportunity by focussing on education, innovation, poverty alleviation, infrastructure and policy reforms.

Mr Samuel Guimaraes, the High Representative of Mercosur and ex-vice foreign minister of Brasil spoke ( humour and irony about IMF and some hard truth about China too) on India- Mercosur partnership.
Horacio Salvador from the Argentine foreign ministry highlighted the common approaches of Argentina and India in multilateral economic issues.
Jai Shroff, CEO of UPL, is planning to increase his agrochemicals and seed business in Latin America from the current turnover of 350 million dollars to a billion in the next 4 years. He is a prime example of the new mindset of Indian entrepreneurs who are going global with confidence, vision and optimism.

In the business session, the five Indian speakers
-were upbeat about the opportunities in Latin America
-outlined their plans for more investment and expansion of business
-expressed happiness with the Latin American human resources
-highlighted the cultural aspects of interaction between Indian and Latin American staff.
Arvind Sharma from Punjab who is settled down in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for the last 20 years, talked about the 2 billion dollar Jindal iron ore mining project.
Satya Muley who has built up from scratch a 50 million dollars business of adhesives and chemicals for Pidilite exuded confidence about his Brasil-expertise. He is a Guru for those who want to know the ropes of doing business in this large but complicated market. Brasil, they say, is not for beginners...
GV Mani was happy with the quality of Argentine human resources for the high-end financial research business of Crisil which wants to recruit more people.
Kapil Gulati wants to increase his business of lighting equipments to 600 million dollars from the current 200 million in the region.
Ram Karuturi has no business in the region..yet. He seeks South American expertise, technology, equipments and partnership for farming of his 300,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia.
Gabriel Rozman, the uruguayan wizard behind the success of TCS in Latin America ( employing 7000 Latin Americans in 8 countries ) inspired the audience with his humorous anecdotes and was proud of his association with Tata the legendary group of India.
Gustavo Grobocopatel's eyes were shining while he talked about the huge potential for South America ( lot of fertile land, abundant water, best practices, professional, scientific and large scale commercial farming) to supply protein and food requirements of India ( growing population and food consumption but losing agricultural land, water table going down, constraints of small scale farming) in the long term. Gustavo is called as the King of Soya and pioneer of APO- Agri Process Outsourcing. Playing on his name, he claims(jokingly) to be a relative of Sardar Vallabhai Patel !! For sure, he is Gujrati in his enterprising spirit.
Left to right- Arvind Sharma ( Jindal Steel Bolivia), Ram Karuturi ( Karuturi Global- largest cut rose producer in the world), Satya Muley ( Pidilite Brasil), Sergio Suarez ( Ayurvedic specialist and more Indian than me), Gabriel Rozman (TCS), GV Mani ( Crisil), Kapil Gulati ( Havells Sylvania) and Gustavo Grobocopatel ( Los Grobo Group).

Jorge Heine, who is writing a book on India ( to be released in the first half of 2012) and who was the Chilean Ambassador to India, talked about the unique aspects and advantages of India over China.
Oliver Stuenkel, the professor from Getulio Vargas Foundation, Sao Paulo
- One cannot understand India using the western norms and theories. India's democracy, growth and promise defy conventional wisdom.
Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor The Hindu
- India's rise as a power is peaceful unlike the old powers which wanted to dominate and caused wars. India and Latin America should work together in setting global agenda ( to the extent possible) rather than reacting to the agenda of the fading old powers who try to manipulate.
Raul Rivera, author of the new book ¨Nuestra Hora ¨ ( our time ), who was the last speaker mesmerised the audience with his unconventional and humorous comparison of Latin America with the rest of the world. He entertained the audience with his wit, satire and colourful language.
Left to right: Raul Rivera ( Chile), Oliver Stuenkel ( Brasil), Jorge Heine ( Chile) and Siddharth Varadarajan ( India)

We raffled 4 Qatar Airways tickets to India among the participants in the seminar and the guests at the Gala evening. The seminar has stimulated new enthusiasm, energy and vision among Indians and Latin Americans about the growing win-win long time partnership based on cultural and spiritual bonds.
The seminar was followed by a cutural programme with Rabindra Sangeet and Manipuri groups which came from India. While the Argentine artistes danced Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Bollywood dances, an Indian Sharukh Merchant danced Tango. Cultural complementarity...
The India- Latin America spiritual synergy flourished in the cocktail with the wine made by a Vietnamese- speaking, French passport-holding Pondicherry Tamil Aziz Abdul in his winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

¨The New India and the New Latin America – Synergies and Complementarities¨ Seminar on 5 December 2011

India is the fastest growing democratic free market set to be the world´s third largest economy in the next three decades. Latin America too has undergone a paradigm shift and 2011 is said to be the dawn of the ¨Latin American Decade¨. The two sides, in their latest reincarnations as The New India and The New Latin America, have synergies and complementarities for growth and prosperity.
¨India : Latin America´s next big thing ?¨ was the title of the study published by the Inter American Development Bank (IADB) in 2010. India represents more than just investment and trade for Latin America The growth story of India within a pluralistic democracy amidst a vast diversity resonates among Latin American democracies. India adds value to Latin America by its spiritual and cultural richness and the Indians and Latin Americans bond with each other easily.

Bilateral trade in 2010 was 23 billion US dollars. India has invested 12 billion US dollars in the region in sectors such as IT sector, pharmaceuticals, agro-chemicals, energy, mining, steel and manufacturing employing 35,000 Latin Americans.

What is the scenario of India and Latin America in the coming decades? What are the new complementarities and synergies? How can they be leveraged for mutual growth? What are the challenges? What should be the strategies? What could they learn from each other from their successes, failures and best practices? What makes Indians and Latin Americans bond with each other? These will be discussed and analysed by economists, policy makers, businessmen and intellectuals in the proposed seminar, which is the first event of its kind to look at all aspects comprehensively.


1400 hrs. Arrival of guests

1430 hrs. Ambassador Viswanathan ¨Adding passion to the Synergies and Complementarities¨

1450 hrs. Osvaldo Rosales, Director of International Trade and Integration, ECLAC ¨Latin American economies - an overview¨

1510 hrs. Jai Shroff, CEO, United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) ¨The new mindset of Indian entrepreneurs¨

1530 hrs. Ambassador Horacio Salvador, Director General, Ministry of External Affairs of Argentina

1540 hrs. Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes, Secretary General, Mercosur, Montevideo

¨India-Mercosur Partnership¨

1600 hrs. Marisol Argueta de Barillas, Senior Director – Head of Latin America, World Economic Forum ¨Latin America - the decade ahead¨

1620 – 1630 hrs. Coffee break

1630 -1800 hrs. Session on India- Latin America business

Moderator: Dr. Sergio Lais-Suarez, Honorary Consul of India, Cordoba


1. Gustavo Grobocopatel, President, Los Grobo Group,


2. Kapil Gulati, Director for Americas, Havells Sylvania, San Jose, Costa Rica

3. G.V. Mani, Senior Director, CRISIL, Mumbai

4. Gabriel Rozman, Executive Vice-President, TCS , Mumbai

5. Satya Muley, CEO, Pidilite Brasil, Sao Paulo

6. Ramakrishna Karuturi, founder &Managing Director, Karuturi Global, Bangalore

7 Arvind Sharma, Director Jindal Steel, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

1800 – 1810 hrs. Coffee break

1810 - 1920 hrs. Session on the markets and mindsets of the New India and New Latin America

Moderator : Dr. Jorge Heine, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, Ontario


1. Oliver Stuenkel Assistant Professor, FundaƧao Getulio Vargas (FGV), Sao Paulo

2. Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor, ´The Hindu´ newspaper of India, Chennai

3. Raul Rivera, President, ForoInnovacion, Santiago

1920 hrs. Raffle of two Qatar Airways tickets to India

1930 – 2100 hrs. Indian classical music & dance, Bollywood and Tango (by an Indian) Dances

2100 – 2230 hrs. Cocktail

The seminar is being organized by the Embassy of India in Buenos Aires in collaboration with the Economic Commission for the Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) based in Santiago (Chile).

The Seminar is part of the IV Festival of India 3-13 December, organized by the Embassy. This includes performances by Indian classical music and dance groups, bollywood dance by Argentines, food festival, yoga and meditation sessions, film festival, tourism workshops, painting and photo exhibitions, cultural seminars, handicraft exhibition by 50 Indian companies and India Cup golf tournament.