Brasilia/New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday called upon South American countries to come together "to seek faster growth and newer avenues of generating prosperity, find solutions to the challenge of poverty and preserve our environment, and use our resources well".
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (L) welcomes Indian PM Narendra Modi to the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. Pic/ AFP
He was addressing a group of South American leaders in Brazil's capital to foster cooperation between the two regions.
Assuring that India seeks to "work more closely with South America than ever before. At the bilateral level, as a BRICS member, in the G-77, as well as other international forums", the prime minister said that distance is not a barrier to opportunities.
"I firmly believe, the possibilities of cooperation are limited not by distance but only by our imagination and efforts.We have much to learn from each other, in our journey towards inclusive and sustainable development. We must share with each other, our experiences, best practices and innovative solutions. India stands committed to the same."
He said that there is a growing presence of Indian investors in South America. But pointed out that it is still well below potential. "From hydrocarbons to pharma, textiles to leather, engineering goods to automobiles; the range of opportunities is enormous," Modi said.
"We must utilize, the Preferential Trade Agreement between India and the MERCOSUR Trade Block, and Chile, more effectively. We also attach importance, to the South American and Caribbean Business Conclave held every year in India. A similar investment conclave is being organised in October in India.
"Almost 250 students from South America have been taking courses in India every year under our International Technical and Economic Cooperation programme. I however believe, that this is not enough. We intend to substantially increase the same," he added.
The prime minister said that India will establish Centres of Excellence in Information Technology in South American countries to share its expertise in information technology.
"I am pleased, that India has deputed experts, to countries in the South American region in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, disaster management, communications and law. We are also working together in renewable energy," he said.
Modi also offered to expand cooperation in areas like tele-medicine, tele-education and e-governance. "We extend our space capabilities for weather forecasting, resource mapping and disaster management," he said.
Citing popularity in India of authors and poets from South America like Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Pablo Neruda, he said that both India and South America share a deep bond.
"Similarly, our national poet, Rabindranath Tagore, is widely loved here. South America is also home to a large number of Indians, many of whom came centuries ago. Generations later, they remain a strong bridge of friendship, between our nations," the prime minister said.
South America is emerging as a contributor to India's energy and food security. The countries of region have been supplying over two billion dollars worth of minerals every year to India. Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia have been supplying crude oil.
India has been importing more than a billion dollars worth of soy and sunflower oil from Brazil and Argentina annually.
In the last two decades, the South American leaders have been pursuing a more autonomous foreign policy with strong belief in a multi-polar world and multi-lateralism.