Leaps rather than steps, Digital Conferencing to expedite conclusion of comprehensive trade agreement negotiations to energise India-Peru commercial engagement Post Covid-19

New Delhi: To increase awareness about business opportunities for Indian and Peruvian industries and create synergies between Peruvian and Indian MSMEs, and to provide an impetus to the existing thriving commercial and economic partnership between India and Peru in the time of COVID-19, ASSOCHAM, in partnership with Lima based Binational Indo – Peruvian Chamber of Commerce (INCHAM) organised the webinar “India & Peru: Business Opportunities in Trade of Goods and Services & Investments” with a special focus on MSMEs.

An exclusive panel of speakers from both chambers shared insights and updates on Indian & Peruvian economies and complementarities, India-Peru trade & investment scenario, existing and emerging business opportunities and the way forward post COVID-19.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, President ASSOCHAM, hailed the opportune timing of this webinar and described it as a great initiative to join the two ends of the world across the globe. Dr. Hiranandani emphasised that this is the right time for India and Peru to take “leaps rather than steps” to create a new paradigm between India and Peru and stressed on focussing on a 5X module, to achieve much more than what has been done. Reflecting on the need of reducing the world’s overdependence on China, and for advancement of global trade on an equitable basis, Dr. Hiranandani said that this is the right time to take the bilateral trade to the next level.

Noted Peruvian economist, Mr. Carlos Anderson, highlighted the complementarities of the Peruvian economy vis à vis the Indin economy and the business opportunities that emerge thereof. “In these extraordinary times of COVID-19, this webinar is an extra ordinary opportunity since COVID-19 has accelerated the future and India is the country of future,” Mr. Anderson added.

Peru is seeking investments in agribusiness, mining, internet infrastructure and digital technologies for healthcare, education and e-commerce. Considering Indian excellence and experience in technology and technology driven solutions, India is the ideal and coveted technology partner for Peru. Mr. Anderson recommended industry on both sides to diligently explore the multiple existing and emerging opportunities and stated that more avenues for investing in Peru will emerge as many more good companies are in dire need of export partners in diverse sectors.

Sharing his views on the promising India–Peru trade relations and the upcoming business opportunities, Mr. S. Suresh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, MoCI praised the positive growth of the Peruvian economy and its emergence as one of the top five trading partners of India in the Latin American region in the past decade.

Mr. Suresh Kumar highlighted the various initiatives taken by the Indian government to revive and strengthen the Indian economy since 2019 with special mention of improving the ease of doing business. Emphasising the progress in bilateral trade between India and Peru, Mr. Kumar said much more needs to be done to leverage the great potential and existing complementarities in trade and industry on both sides.

Mr. Kumar informed that the reduction in import duties by Peru on a series of items has been favourable for Indian industry and this should motivate more Indian companies to explore the Peruvian markets and increase the volumes of trade. He also urged Indian industry to explore and leverage the opportunity for exports to Peru in view of the temporary abolition of import duties on notified pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

On the impending Comprehensive Trade Agreement between India and Peru, Mr. Kumar shared that governments on both sides are working relentlessly to facilitate the 6th round of negotiations between India and Peru, which were scheduled to take place in April 2020 but hampered due to the COVID-19 global outbreak. He said multiple discussions have been held and modalities are being explored to conclude the 6th round of negotiations via digital conferencing.

Concluding his remarks, Mr. Kumar highlighted India’s immense potential and availability of abundant resources to meet the urgent requirements citing how just within two months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis various Indian companies have started manufacturing sanitizers, masks, disinfectants, and PPE kits et al. to meet the internal demand.

In his remarks about Business Opportunities in Peru post COVID-19, Mr. Luis Cabello, Trade Counsellor of Peru in India, said it is essential for both sides to work together and actively inform and educate their industry about the vast opportunities and immense potential for trade and investment in both India and Peru. He advised MSMEs on both side to develop a business plan keeping in mind the ease of doing business, studying the markets in the other country and then identifying and offering products to suit the markets in the other country.

Mr. Cabello underlined several facets of the Peruvian economy that make investments in Peru favourable for Indian investors, including the openness of the economy, macroeconomic stability etc. He informed that Peru has more than 20 FTAs with other countries, and thus doing business in Peru implies access to other FTA partner markets and urged Indian industry to view Peru as an “extended market”.

The Peruvian Trade Counsellor indicated that the Peruvian government seeks greater investments in agribusiness, mining, healthcare, and services sectors including IT & ITeS, Cloud technologies, AI, medical technologies, hospital management software, banking software, e-commerce, fintechs. Indian food products and investments in Indian restaurants in Peru also offer a promising business and market opportunity for Indian industry, Mr. Cabello added.

H. E. Mr. M. Subbarayudu, India’s Ambassador to Peru underlined that India’s commercial engagement with Peru saw a threefold increase in five years from 2014 to 2018. “Despite a drop in 2019 in the trade indices, India remains the 7th largest global trading partner of Peru and for India Peru continues to be 4th largest partner in the Latin American region.”

Ambassador Subbarayudu reaffirmed that bilateral commercial engagement will resume in the post COVID-19 world, albeit with new facets. Ambassador Subbarayudu advised industry on both sides to understand the strengths and shortfalls of each other and identify the complementing areas and opportunities to do business in the emerging frameworks. “Innovative production and trade practices will be the need of the times.” He emphasised that absorption and adoption of technology across nation is one of the principal objectives of Peru’s National Innovation Programme, and India, with its rich expertise and experience in the IT sector, is an ever-willing technological partner of Peru. Cooperation in healthcare and access to affordable medicines and medical devices is also a burning need for Peru and with its proven experience and strength in pharmaceutical and healthcare sector, Indian companies stand to benefit immensely in the Peruvian market.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Rohit Rao, President, INCHAM, invited Indian industry, specifically the MSMEs to come to Peru emphasising that Peruvian open economy and its multiple FTAs open a much broader market for Indian business interests and this can result in a huge leap for many Indian companies.