Peru: India’s Gateway To Latin America?

With India trying hard to explore new avenues to boost trade ties with Latin America, Peru has offered olive branch to the South Asian country.
During his recent visit to India, Peru’s Vice Minister of Foreign Trade Edgar Vasquez announced that Lima would soon finalise the draft of a comprehensive economic and preferential trade agreement with New Delhi. The visiting minister said that “multicultural and multiethnic” Peru has the potential to emerge as India’s gateway to Latin America mainly because of its investor-friendly environment. “India and Peru complement each other. We are similar in many ways from multi-ethnicity to variety of culture to food. Therefore, Indians feel at home in Peru. India and Peru would begin talks for finalisation of comprehensive economic and preferential trade agreement between the two in the month of June, with the Indian commerce secretary landing at Peru for the job,” Vasquez told the Indian media.
Vasquez, who held wide-ranging discussions with the top Indian political leadership on increasing trade in natural resources and Indian investments in Latin America, expressed hope that Indian business leaders would increase the volume of investment in his country in the coming days. He once again assured New Delhi that Peru would open its market for Indian ‘basmati’ rice, mangoes and grapes, if India opens its door for Peru’s fruits.
Meanwhile, Vasquez claimed that Peru would provide best investment opportunities to the Indians, stressing that the Pedro Pablo Kuczynski administration in Lima successfully created an investor-friendly environment in the country. He insisted that Peru has similar laws for foreign and local investors with regard to land acquisition, requesting India to take advantage of this opportunity.
According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the Narendra Modi government has accepted Vasquez’s request to strengthen trade ties with Lima. A senior ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, stressed that India has only one friend in Latin America and that is Brazil. However, India’s trade with Peru has been growing and the volume of bilateral trade was USD 1,523.35 million in 2015-16 financial year, he added.
Indian Ambassador in Peru Sandeep Chakravorty, too, believes that it would be possible for the two countries to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) soon, as “there are not many sensitive issues between them”. He confirmed that the bilateral trade balance amounted to USD 1,733 million in 2016. “Peru’s basic tariff is very low, while India’s tariff is very high. So, Peruvian exports are paying a lot of tariffs. But, if we reach an agreement, then it will go down to zero. I see many Peruvian exports coming to India, with this agreement,” said the envoy.
Indian business leaders have welcomed Peru’s decision to strengthen trade ties with India, which maintains cordial ties with Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico. As a growing economy, India needs a huge market to sell its products and experts believe that Peru can help India explore the Latin American market.

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