A region expert lays out the potential for India's relations with Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries against the backdrop of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires last month. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a rare visit to the South American continent - for only the second time since taking office, out of a total of more than 90 international visits. Just like the last time he visited the continent (for the 2014 BRICS Summit in Brazil), Modi made the trip to attend a multilateral summit - the G20 Annual summit in Buenos Aires on November 30. The visit gives us an opportunity to examine India's ties with the Latin American region: How important are bilateral ties Where is India-Latin America relations headed in the 21st century Today, India is closer than it has ever been to Latin America's economic orbit. Testament to this is the fact that since 2014, India is the third-largest export market for the Latin American region, behind only the United States and China. Latin America now exports more to India than to the UK, France and Russia combined. All manner of products, from petroleum to teak wood, make their way from Latin America to India. The region is an important export partner for India too: it is the largest market for India's car and motorcycle exports and nearly 10 per cent of Indian pharma exports are destined for Latin America. Besides trade, there is also sizeable cross-border investment. About 150 Indian companies have so far invested roughly $16 billion in Latin America , mostly in the automobile, pharma, IT and agricultural sectors. Bajaj Pulsar and TVS Apache motorbikes are ubiquitous in Central America and northern South America, while the Tata brand finds excellent recall throughout the region - credit to the 15,000 people employed by TCS in Latin America. Similarly, some Latin American companies have managed to successfully capture the Indian market, and around 35 Latin American companies have opened office in India. Thousands of Indians have been to a Cinépolis movie theatre, whose 350 screens dot the entire nation, from smaller towns like Muzaffarpur, Bihar (population 370,000) and Ambala, Haryana (population 200,000) to India's metropolises like Mumbai and Delhi (population of 20+ million). Thousands more have ridden in the Tata-Marcopolo buses across India, jointly manufactured by India's Tata Motors and Brazil's Marcopolo. Such advances in trade and investment ties over the past two decades have brought the commercial relationship front-and-centre. India and Latin America thus view each other through the lens of economic diplomacy; both see each other as a source of economic diversification. Today, they are reaching a new status quo in their economic relationship, turning a new page in South-South relations. The political relationship, however, lags behind the commercial one. Even as India's diplomatic missions in 14 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries and the 20 LAC diplomatic missions in India work diligently to deepen bilateral ties, there lacks a certain political will that could take relations to the next level. High-level visits, especially at the level of heads of government, are few and far in between.