Guest Lecture at IIM Raipur on Indian - Brazil economic cooperatin by Mr Deepak Bhojwani, a career diplomat

 | November 15,2012 10:13 pm IST

IIM Raipur students were today graced by the presence of Mr Deepak Bhojwani , a career diplomat who has been the Ambassador to several countries in the Latin America and enlightened the students with the huge business opportunities in Latin America. The prominent nations he had been serving since last 12 years in Latin America include Venezuela, Columbia, Cuba among others and Consul General at Sao Polo, Brazil.

The theme of the lecture was India Brazil Economic Cooperation. He urged the students to shun the myths around Latin America, which appears remote to most Indians. Mr Bhojwani described it as a land of 600 million people with per capita income as high as $15,000 which has great opportunities for business.

Mr Bhojwani began his lecture with an introduction about the region explaining about the rich history the continent has. He began on how the continent was discovered, extended his explanation as to why Brazil had Portuguese population in majority and the rest of the continent predominantly Spanish. He explained the difference in colonization of Asia, Africa and South America. This in turn has a great influence in the way people in Latin America behave and think. The influence United States has had on the region and the rise and fall of left leaning dictators.

Mr Bhojwani elucidated the numerous reasons why Latin America needs to be looked in a new light and highlighted the absence of credible sources on the region. Some of the key opportunities according to him were:

The continent is endowed with Mineral wealth for eg: Petroleum (Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela), Natural Gas (In Bolivia, Uruguay), Iron Ore, Copper, Lithium, Gold etc.

The presence of unified markets being created in form of Mercosur, Pacific Alliance and an Alliance of Latin American Countries (CELAC) evolved new business opportunities.

>The relatively peaceful neighbors (last time a major war that was fought between neighbors was over 150 years back).

The prosperity of the people, the population being 6/10 of India and spread over an area that is over 5 times the size of India with high per capita income (over 10 times the Indian per capita income) cannot be ignored.

The favorable image India has in the minds of Latin Americans.

He discussed in detail on how the engagement of India with Latin countries and particularly Brazil have grown in the past one decade (during which he held prominent positions in Indian Embassies across the region) but he pointed that a lot more is required to be done to promote bilateral trade. The trade has been limited to seeking resources from the region in the form of crude, which formed the bulk of trade, along with other natural reserves. The overall investment by Indians in the region according to one estimate was over $15 billion but India on the other hand has not seen the same. Mr Bhojwani expressed his hope that in the coming years the visa policies for the region will be made more conducive to allow businessmen to explore the region before investing and at the same time stressed on the need to sign preferential trade agreements with the countries to make the most out of the opportunities that exist.

The students asked about the safety of business in the region and the instability of the business regimes and also tried to understand the cultural nuances in terms of doing business in Latin America. The students tried to understand the various policies India has to promote Indian Business in the region and also were intrigued how the region especially Brazil, despite the similarities with India, has larger companies on Fortune 500 than India and is also facing a slowdown now.

The session gave students a comprehensive overview on doing business in Latin America and Mr Bhojwani complimented the students on their keenness to learn about the region. He expressed his desire to come back to the campus and talk more about the same.