Relations between India and Peru are united by El Niño and the monsoon yet separated by vast distances across oceans. Jorge Castaneda, Ambassador of Peru to India, talks to INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS exclusively about what is bringing the two geographically-apart countries closer.
Q: India and Peru established diplomatic relations in 1963. Could you please elaborate on the nature of the relationship and your vision for a shared future?
A: The relationship between Peru and India is based on a shared vision of democratic values, respect for human rights, multiculturalism, and the right of every individual to develop their potential, free enterprise and access to markets and government policies focused on inclusive social development to benefit their population. The roles that both countries play in today’s globalized and multilateral world order, I must say, correspond to the size of their territories and population, economic and social development and soft power which reflects in the level to influence world events on a regional or a global basis. In the case of India, due to the size of the above-mentioned factors, its role is bigger than that of Peru. India as a rising power is in process of deploying its national capabilities to try to and shape the rules governing the international order. Peru is a middle size country aspiring to be a regional soft power on major global issues. Peru and India have a strong tradition of mutual support in multilateral institutions and in their diplomatic efforts with regard to global issues such as trade, global security and climate change. In the last few years, trade has crossed the one billion dollar mark.
Q: What are the key areas of trade and investment?
A: Trade between both countries has grown steadily. Peru has become India’s fourth trading partner in Latin America. There is a growing interest among investors and entrepreneurs of both countries to develop new ventures and to internationalize their businesses. Peru offers an open economy and an expanded market thanks to the 21 free trade agreements, bilateral and multilateral, signed with the major world economies. Peru is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance, it has been an APEC member since 1998, and is part of the group of 12 countries that concluded the negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Currently, trade and investment between India and Peru is related to mining, agriculture, information technology, pharmaceutical and service sectors where Indian entrepreneurs are working on important investments in Peru. As a mega diverse country with rich mineral, agricultural, fishery and forestry resources, Peru offers major investment opportunities to Indian investors especially in telecom (broadband projects), water and sanitation, health, energy and mining.
Q: What is the status of the proposed FTA between India and Peru and its potential benefit?
A: Peru is the first Latin American country with which India is negotiating its first comprehensive commercial agreement. The negotiation includes not only trade in goods but also in investment promotion, services, mining, hydrocarbons, intellectual property, traditional knowledge, genetic resources, biodiversity, small and medium enterprises, infrastructure, automotive industry, agricultural products, food, tourism, creative industries, health care and pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, science, technology and research. The first round of negotiation was held in Delhi in August 2017. The second round will be held in Lima this December. I must highlight that India and Peru have complementary economies; we are not trade competitors. Both governments have expressed their commitment to reach this agreement in the shortest time possible, but it is hard to say how soon it would be signed. The comprehensive trade agreement between India and Peru covering goods, services and investments will not only have bilateral benefits for India but also may raise India’s export volumes in the western South American nations and benefit Peru’s 21 preferential trade agreements with third parties that Peru has in force.
Q: India and Peru have shown a strong commitment to Paris Climate Agreement as both are vulnerable to climate change and to the adverse impact of EL-Nino. How are both nations cooperating to address climate change issues?
A: Both countries share efforts to curb climate change and cooperate to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and reinforce their climate-change adaptation policies in line with the Paris Agreement. It was agreed in the first meeting of Peru-India Joint Commission to continue to cooperate on the issue both at the multilateral and bilateral levels, which can be achieved by the mutual exchange of information on implementation of the National Determined Contributions (NDC) between the environment ministry of both countries and by soon organizing in Lima a workshop on the effects of El Niño and the monsoon, which may be undertaken at the level of India Pacific Alliance Cooperation.
Q: Peruvian and Indian civilizations are marked by diversity and rich cultural heritage. How can both increase people to people contacts?
A: Geographic distance and different languages are factors that constrain the development of intense people to people contacts between Peru and India. At the same time, as a result of globalization of information through social media networks, people of both countries are now connected in real time and are informed of what is happening in each other’s country on several issues. The challenge for Peru and India is to adequately use these tools to provide to each and every citizen, accurate information. We believe that through culture and mutual knowledge, we can bring our people closer. The Embassy of Peru interacts daily with Indian people regarding Peruvian culture, though its webpage, facebook, twitter and whatsapp chat, providing them information of their interest. Through our Art Gallery and the Indo-Peruvian Friendship Association, the Embassy organizes cultural activities, like film screening, conferences, exhibitions, workshops periodically on different aspects of Peruvian Culture. A significant, unilateral step to promote people to people contacts from Peru’s side has been liberalization of visa issuance to Indian travelers holding a visa from either United States of America, United Kingdom, Schengen countries, Australia or Canada, with a minimum validity of six months, enabling them to enter into Peru as a tourist/business traveler for 90 days.
Q: What has your personal experience been? How do you envision the future of the relationship between both countries?
A: It has been almost a year since I arrived. I can say that both my personal and professional experience here has been quite satisfactory. I must highlight that coming to India for my last posting as a career diplomat was a request I made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima, which was happily accepted by them. The reasons for my making such a request were the richness of the Indian millennial culture, dynamism of its development process, huge potential that exists to enhance and diversify bilateral relations to the level of strategic partners and conviction that both Peru and India are cradles of civilizations. Both countries have a broad scope of areas of cooperation, particularly in social areas; education, health, housing; in which they share government policies focusing on inclusive social development. After 54 years of diplomatic relations, 2017 is turning to be the most magnificent year in strengthening, expanding and diversifying bilateral relations. The recent Joint Commission, held in Lima on 21st June 2017, in which 3 bilateral agreements were signed, while the negotiation of 7 other bilateral agreements is in process including a comprehensive commercial agreement and 2 agreements are pending for signing. The upcoming official visit of the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, to India, during which important agreements will be signed, is clear proof that our bilateral relations are rapidly progressing to become strategic partners. Relations between Peru and India will continue to strengthen consistently as the relationship is based on a firm, multi layer basis.