Peru goes in search of tighter ties with UAE

The Life: Alvaro Silva-Santisteban, director of Peru trade, tourism and investment office in Dubai, says improving connectivity between Peru and the UAE and the current year would define the trade relations between the two countries.

Alvaro Silva-Santisteban is the director of the Peruvian trade, tourism and investment office Promperu. Jaime Puebla / The National
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Alvaro Silva-Santisteban, director of the Peruvian trade, tourism and investment office Promperu, seeks greater exposure of his country in the Emirates. Based in Dubai, Mr Silva-Santisteban talks about ways trade and tourism between the two countries can improve.

Your office opened in Dubai in September 2011. How has the relationship between the UAE and Peru developed over the past two years?

We need to educate both sides - Peruvians and the people in the UAE - about the two countries. From the Gulf we estimate 6,000 tourists went to Peru and within 1,000 from the UAE. About 1,000 tourists from Peru visited the UAE last year. In 2012, we had around 19 commercial missions between Peru and Dubai. This year we expect around 24. [Today and tomorrow], a 40-member delegation from Peru will visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Among these 30 will be businessmen from Peru.

What are the trade figures between the two countries?

Last year, Peru exported goods worth between US$25 million and $30m to the UAE. The growth in 2010 and 2011 was very little. But this year is going to be a stepping stone in the relations between the UAE and Peru. From 2010 until now, the UAE has invested between $1.3 billion and $1.5bn in Peru.

DP World's investment in Peru's leading port, at Callao, can be considered the flagship UAE investment in your country. Who are the others investing there?

Ipic [International Petroleum Investment Company] has three exploration wells and is bidding for two more, Abraaj Capital and General Petroleum are also investing. Ipic through its 100 per cent-owned subsidiary Cepsa has invested in oilfields.

Food security is a big issue in the UAE and a delegation from Peru visited the UAE in search of investment in the H2 Olmos project in 2010. How did that go?

So far no UAE company has invested in that project yet. In this project, land was allocated for Arab investors.

How could direct trade increase between the two countries?

Currently there are no direct flights between the UAE and Peru, though there are to other South American countries. We need to increase connectivity. With that there would be an increase in brand awareness and investments, as well as an increase in tourism. Many food [products] and beverages come to the UAE through the United States and Europe, especially the Netherlands, such as asparagus, grapes, mangoes, cacao, evaporated milk and quinoa. Peru also has those products and we are trying to promote these.

But the distance is a hindrance?

Produce can be shipped in 32 days, now it is taking 45 days from Peru to Dubai. But we have a competitive advantage of having DP World, where goods could be shipped through an Emirati port in Peru to an Emirati company here. Mangoes are big here, and our own produce takes place when it is off season in India, and pricewise not very far off. So, people here can enjoy 365 days of mangoes. Same goes for avocados.