Interview with H.E. Gonzalo Gutiérrez Ambassador of Peru

What is your experience so far as an Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg?

My experience as Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg has begun when I had the honor of presenting Credentials to His Majesty Philippe, King of the Belgians, on March 7, 2017; as well as to His Highness the Duke Henri of Luxembourg, on September 21, 2017. Since the Peruvian Embassy is also Mission of Peru to the European Union, the work is even more interesting and represents a real challenge every day, as much for the variety of issues as for their importance in bilateral relations, covering different areas: politics and diplomacy, economy, culture, cooperation and exchange of high level visits, just to mention a few.

On the other hand, I consider that Brussels, being the European capital and the venue of important institutions, is providing, thanks to its cosmopolitanism, a special scenario, full of opportunities for the development of an enriching diplomatic management.

Peru is a member of the Andean community; how is Peru’s relationship with other Andean member states?

Peru is very active within the Andean Community and it is working closely with its partners Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, looking for a comprehensive, balanced and autonomous development policies, in the context of a process of integration with these countries. As you know, the headquarters of this sub-regional organization are based in Lima, Peru and the new Secretary General, elected last January, is a distinguished national from Colombia, Mr. Jorge Hernando Pedraza Gutiérrez.

This association recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, in which occasion the four presidents got together in Lima and renewed their integration commitment and signed a Presidential Declaration recognizing the contribution of this organization towards the development of these Andean countries and their 110 million inhabitants.

Agriculture is one the major contributors to Peru’s economy. How has Peru used technology to improve their Agricultural production?

Agriculture is present in Peru from ancient times, with the Incas and pre-Incas cultures. In modern times, this activity has become much more important, for supplies to the internal market, but also as a successful export activity to many destinations. Peruvian agriculture exports have grown from US$645 million in 2000 to US$6,600 million in 2018, due to new developments and diversification of production and destination markets, good agricultural practices and up-dated agrarian technologies, applied particularly in the area of fresh fruits and vegetables. Thus, Peru has become the first world exporter of asparagus and artichokes, second supplier of avocados and blueberries and fifth in fresh grapes suppliers, not to mention also the first rank for organic coffee and second for organic bananas, and growing participation also for mandarins and mangoes.

Are there any Trade agreements between Peru and the EU?

Together with Colombia and Ecuador, we have a free trade agreement with the European Union which governs our bilateral trade and investments, providing long term rules that insures private operators of their dealings with their corresponding counterparts. The agreement, which was signed first by Peru 6 years ago, has proven to be a good instrument to support free trade helping also to adapt to the new changing world trade environment.

Tourism today is an important economic sector. It is contributing effectively to the gross national product (GDP) of many countries in the world, because of its role in national resources development and generating employment, in addition to its social and cultural importance. How do you see the role of Tourism in the growth of cultural experience in Peru?

Tourism is a fast-growing sector in Peru, both for the appeal of the history and ancient cultures of Peru, but also for its outstanding nature in the three main geographical regions of Peru, the coast, the Andes and the tropical forest.

Cultural experience due to the legacy of our ancient civilizations, is a strong attraction for international tourists, as it is also the beauty of the high mountain landscapes and valleys, and the exuberance of the deep Amazonian forest. So traditional tourism is enhanced with specialty tourism modalities such as living cultures, sporting activities, gastronomy, bird watching and others. From less than one million visitors in 2000, tourism reached more than
four million in 2018.

Brussels is the capital of Belgium and Europe. Are there any activities already in place to promote Peruvian Arts and Culture?

We are planning the realization of a photographic exhibition on Caral, the oldest city in America, with archaeological remains of a civilization, little known in Europe, which is 5.000 years old, and has developed in the north-central region of Peru. In the Sacred City of Caral, we can find temples, pyramids and amphitheaters located in a natural area between the sea and the mountains, and which will surprise the visitors and of course the public who will see the exhibition.

Furthermore, in 2021, Peru will celebrate the bicentenary of its independence, a special occasion in which the Embassy will carry out a wide range of commemorative activities in the city of Brussels, including roundtables about the Independence history, some special philatelic emissions as well as a project for the monumental lighting of some emblematic façades of the city with the colors of the Peruvian flag.

Recently we had the “Inca Dress Code” in the Royal Museum of Art and History of Brussels. It was a great success this exhibition of traditional textiles from pre-Columbian Peruvian cultures.

Peru is an Associate member of the MERCOSUR Countries. how has Peru benefited from it?

In December 2005, the government of Peru signed the Economic Complementary Agreement with the Mercosur members (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) which entered into force early the following year and was technically known as ACE 51. Since then, bilateral trade with MERCOSUR countries has grown from US$2,400 million to more than US$5,700 million in the last year. Current plans are to update such an agreement, given the important changes that have taken place in all our countries, in such a period of time. In March this year we have already concluded the first negotiation round with Argentina. And in 2016 a deepening economic and trade agreement was reached with Brazil, looking to accelerate the trade liberalization process of ACE 51.

A highly successful agreement to underline is the PACIFIC ALLIANCE between Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, that was signed in June 2016 with the aim of creating an area of integration and progressively achieving the goal of free movement of goods, services, capital and people, as well as promoting a faster development, social inclusion and a political and economic articulation and growth, with emphasis in the Asia-Pacific area.

The PACIFIC ALLIANCE represents an integration and open area of near 225 million inhabitants, that have more than US$18,150 average per capita income, and more than US$1,200 billion foreign trade per year. It receives 45% of foreign total investments in Latin America and more than
55 million tourists per year. The rotating presidency which this last year was held by Peru, will be transferred to Chile next July.

During the Peruvian presidency, the Embassy of Peru coordinated the organization of several Seminars on business opportunities of the Pacific Alliance in Namur, Ghent and Luxemburg, as well as an Ambassadorial visit to Antwerp port. We organized a Seminar in Callao – Peru with Customs officials of the four member countries which will take place in the following weeks. Also, the PACIFIC ALLIANCE will sign a cooperation agreement with the European Union, probably in the next summit in Peru.