Raúl Rivera, an innovation guru and author of a recent best-selling book, Nuestra hora, soon to be out in English, pointed out in Buenos Aires that, for a variety of reasons, Latin America has developed a reputation for being a small, fragmented region, racked by conflict and populist dictators. Nothing could be further from the truth. In terms of land mass, with some 20 million square kilometres, Latin America has a larger surface than either Russia or Canada, the two largest countries. It is the region with the largest bio-capacity and biodiversity, and the one with the biggest fresh water reserves anywhere. Almost all countries have now democratically elected governments. It is also a peaceful region, with few inter-state wars in the course of the past 100 years, and, accordingly, with the lowest defence expenditures. Its economy as a whole, measured in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, is the fourth largest in the world — bigger than Japan’s, and only behind the EU’s, the U.S. and China’s. Over the course of the past decade, it has also become one of the growth poles of the world economy and thus a natural partner for India. With a population of 580 million, a GDP of $4.9 trillion (four times larger than that of India) and six per cent of the world’s merchandise trade, it has shown remarkable resilience in the face of the GFC. Although its GDP fell by 1.7 per cent in 2009, its recovery was swift, growing at 6.1 per cent in 2010, and at a (projected) 4.5 per cent in 2011. This is in marked contrast to many European countries now on the verge of bankruptcy and a United States still in the throes of the recession.

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