The President of India, Pratibha Patil, left her country on Saturday for a Latin American tour of Brazil, Mexico and Chile with the purpose of strengthening trade, investment and political ties with the region.
President Patil's visit to Brazil is particularly significant as India has a strategic partnership with Brasília. The two countries, which have fluid contacts with G-8 over global trade issues are working together on IBSA, a trilateral developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa.
Patil is scheduled to meet Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Mexican President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa and Chile's President Michelle Bachelet during her 12-day visit.
Nalin Surie, secretary of India's Ministry of External Affairs pointed out that trade and economic interaction between Latinamerica and India is growing rapidly despite the impediments in the physical connectivity and announced that a number of agreements are expected to be signed during the visit.
The Indian cabinet on Friday, April 11, approved the Air Services Agreements (ASA) with Chile and Mexico. According to the agreements, both countries will have the right to designate as many airlines as they wish to fly to India, and vice versa.
"India also has a preferential trade arrangement with Chile and our trade and economic relations are growing rapidly," Surie told reporters.
"The president's visit to Latin America will cover three of our important partners in the region. All three are flourishing democracies, developing countries and countries with which our interaction is growing rapidly" added Surie.
Patil, the first woman president of India begins her official visit to Brazil in São Paulo, where she is expected to arrive Tuesday, April 14, and will later travel to Rio de Janeiro and Brazilian capital Brasília.
Patil flies then to Mexico for four days during which she will visit Mexico City and Guadalajara province. The two day visit to Chile begins April 20.
Surie pointed out that India's trade and economic ties with the three countries were growing rapidly and currently trade with Brazil stands at US$ 3.2 billion; with Mexico, US$ 2 billion and US$ 2.4 billion with Chile. New Delhi trade targets for 2010 are US$ 10 billion with Brazil and US$ 5 billion with Mexico.