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In an Interview with Diplomacy and Beyond Plus: Jorge Juan Castaneda Mendez

Q1. Excellency, tell us about your stay in India so far.

By far my year and a half stay in India has been highly pleasant and satisfactory, both in professional and personal terms. Despite the short length of this period, it became the most intensive and dynamic posting in my 48 years of work as a career diplomat. During my time in India, many important and positive activities in all areas of the
Peru–India bilateral relationship have taken place, all of which have yielded positive and encouraging results. Many more initiatives are now under discussion or in process of construction. In personal terms, travelling around India and interacting with its people, has given me the opportunity to learn and understand the richness and diversity of India’s culture, as well as witness its impressive geography and amazing development of its infrastructure in all sectors.


Q2. The Vice President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu recently visited your country. While there, an agreement for cooperation was signed between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India and the Ministry of Energy and Mining of the Republic, Peru. What exactly does the agreement entail? Do you see such developments as a symbol of further strengthening of ties between the two countries?

The agreement between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Energy and Mining of the Republic of Peru on Cooperation in New and Renewable Energy entails working together to promote bilateral technical cooperation in new and renewable energy on the basis of mutual benefit, equality, and reciprocity. The Agreement envisages establishing a Joint Committee to develop work plans for its implementation. I wish to underscore that Peru and India, being founder members of the International Solar Alliance, share the common view that goals in the Paris Agreement and the Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without scaling up solar power generation and support countries with great solar potential. This opens a broad scope of cooperation between our two countries. The signing of the agreement on Cooperation in New and Renewable Energy is just part of the process of construction of a strong legal cooperation framework, which to-date comprises 32 signed agreements and at least 16 more in process of negotiation. Likewise, it reflects the expanding relations between the two countries and conveys a strong commitment from both parties to deepen and diversify their already multifaceted ties, and to step up the bilateral relationship to a higher level.


Q3. The above mentioned visit was also made with the purpose of celebrating 55 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Peru. How has the trajectory of relations between the two been so far? 

The sole fact the we are commemorating the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Peru and India is extraordinary, because normally these types of celebrations come in round figures such as 50 or 60 years. The participation of the Vice-President of India, H.E. Shri Venkaiah Naidu, in the celebrations held in Lima is indicative not only of a trajectory of strong friendship and cooperation that permeates our ties at the bilateral and multilateral levels, but also of the willingness to continue to enhance them. From 2014 onwards, bilateral relations are increasing and diversifying particularly in the economic, cultural and cooperation sectors, yielding positive results that show that the broad potential of cooperation that bilaterally exists is being developed with success. In India, the Embassy of Peru celebrates this momentous commemoration by publishing a book, titled “55 years of Diplomatic Relations Peru India: Chronology-Main Events”. In October 2018, the Embassy is also organizing, in collaboration with the National Museum of India, an exhibition “Peru’s Fabulous Treasures”.


Q4. With trade between India and Peru in FY 2017-18 hitting $1.57 billion, talks for FTA between the two are still underway. What are Peru’s plans for their future economic ties with India? Trade between India and Peru, which in 2015 was USD $1,156,462 million in value, reached USD $2,777,042 million in 2017. This significative increase reflects the dynamic trade interaction that is developing between our two countries.  During the recent visit of the Vice-President of India, H.E. Shri Venkaiah Naidu to Peru, it was highlighted that India became Peru’s seventh largest trading partner in 2017 and that both parties achieved progress during the second round of negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement covering goods, services, and investments, and underscored the importance of intensifying the negotiations for an early conclusion of said agreement. The third round of negotiations will be held in September 2018, in New Delhi. In addition, in the economic sector, there are also other agreements in negotiation regarding assistance in customs, sanitary, phytosanitary and fishery sanitary matters. These will synergize with the comprehensive trade agreement, allowing for a both freer and safer flow of goods between our countries. Our economies being complementary, the desired goal is to develop a strong, strategic and long-lasting relation between our two countries.


Q5.Four cookbooks on Peruvian cuisine were recently released by the Embassy to attract Indian travellers. The tourism sector has been experiencing an increasing footfall from the subcontinent. What can further be done to promote tourism?

The Embassy’s recent launch of the four cookbooks on Peruvian cuisine has a double purpose: first, to present Peru’s internationally acclaimed gastronomy and beverages to India seeking to integrate them into its own gastronomical offer and, second, to enthuse Indian travelers to experience Peruvian food and beverages first-hand by travelling to Peru. We understand the importance of good food as motivator for Indians to engage in international travel. Our current target audience is the well-travelled, curious explorer who is looking to get immersed in the history, culture, adventure, and gastronomy that Peru has to offer. In terms of the activities underway to  promote tourism, our focus is multi-fold, wherein we are looking to create both demand and supply simultaneously. The Commercial Office of Peru has been actively involved in the execution of these activities, some aimed at the B2C segment, while others at the B2B segment. Latest trends show that MICE is another segment which is growing in India and considering that Peru is one of the most important MICE destinations in South America, our efforts will be to promote this nature of travel to Peru. Various G2B initiatives are also being undertaken, wherein the government acts as the facilitator between interested private and public-sector representatives. The initial results are very auspicious. Last year, 8,781 Indian travelers visited Peru, compared to 5,984 travelers in 2016, showing a growth of 46.1%. The Embassy of Peru, along with the Commercial Office of Peru in India will continue to work  towards the promotion of  Peru as a tourist destination, and we are certain that    the    numbers   will  further  increase       in    the   months    to  come.


Q6.Peru has long been supporting India’s claim for a permanent seat in UNSC and has been a supportive partner in APEC and NAM as well. Let’s expand on this.

Peru is a long-term supporter for India’s candidature for permanent membership in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council. India and Peru are proponents of an open globalization, whereby all sovereign nations can thrive as equals. Our countries share the common vision of a democratic and rules-based international order and the goal of ensuring international peace and security.In this line of ideas, we believe that India, South and East Asia, home to nearly a quarter of the world population, is not adequately represented at the United Nations Security Council.As regards to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a block highlighting the process of economic opening and reform, Peru is ready to support India when the moratorium on the admission of new members is lifted if it desires to be a member. As regards to NAM, both are founding members and both are strong votaries of the Non-Alignment Movement and both practice their own foreign policy which is devoid of pressure from countries.


Q7. The India-Peru Centre for Excellence in Information Technology (IPCEIT) was set up in Lima with the assistance of the Government of India in March 2015. How has Peru’s experience with this been so far?

The India-Peru Centre for Excellence in Information Technology (IPCEIT) established in 2015 has performed as per the expectations and has become a mainstay of our bilateral cooperation. India is also favorably considering the Peruvian request for the extension of the activities of IPCEIT for the period 2018-2021.


Q8. What is your message for the readers of Diplomacy and Beyond Plus?

Both Peru and India are cradles of civilization with ancient cultures that date back to 5000 years, having lot of cultural values and knowledge to share with your readers. It can be done through travelling and by mingling with the locals or by social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) or whats app. Registering as a member of the Indo-Peruvian Friendship Association (INPEFA) will be a positive step in that direction.

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