Today, Peruvians living in Indonesia will celebrate the 185th anniversary of their country's independence. Peru and Indonesia have enjoyed good relations since diplomatic ties were established in 1975. In order to learn more about the growing relations, The Jakarta Post's Veeramalla Anjaiah recently talked to Peruvian Ambassador to Indonesia Juan Alvarez Vita, a diplomat with a distinguished career stretching over more than three decades. Alvarez Vita, who speaks more than half a dozen languages, is the well known author of several books about human rights, international law, history and linguistics. The following are excerpts from the interview.
Question: What is the present state of relations between Peru and Indonesia?
Answer: I think that my country has a very substantial relationship with Indonesia.
During our 34 years of friendship with Indonesia, we've never had any problems. We cooperate very closely at the bilateral and multilateral level.
On the political front, both Peru and Indonesia have been cooperating in international forums. There is a very good political cooperation between Indonesia and Peru. We have similar perceptions on many international issues.
Last year, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu visited Peru to strengthen these bilateral ties and to attend the APEC meeting.
We also had the first meeting of bilateral consultations between Peru and Indonesia in July 2009. We have finalized the draft of the agreement between Peru and Indonesia on technical and economic cooperation. The objective of this agreement is to promote cooperation and programs in areas of common interest with the participation of public and private organizations. This agreement also includes intellectual property rights and the establishment of a Joint Commission.
What about economic relations?
Regarding this aspect, it's necessary to mention that we have identified many products from both countries that will allow us to diversify current trade, which last year reached US$76 million *according to Indonesian statistics, the total bilateral trade value in 2008 was $86.03 million*, Peruvian exports to this country were valued at $38.6.
Now days Indonesia has been exporting to Peru a variety of products such as rubber, sound recorders, automatic data processing machines, paper, textile yarn and so on. Moreover, almost 90 percent of Peruvian exports to Indonesia are focused on flour and fish oil; copper ore, synthetic fibers, manufacturing of metal base and other things account for the remainder. Thus the importance of diversifying our trade, not only to increase our bilateral commerce but also to contribute to exchange of knowledge between our people.
According to our research, Peruvian products such as grapes, olives, cotton, mangoes, asparagus, herbal medicine products and silver jewelry, as well as cosmetics and perfumes, are potential products for the Indonesian market. On the other hand, I think Indonesian wood furniture and handicrafts are in high demand in my country because of their well known quality.
Referring to bilateral cooperation, we continue our research to identify specific projects in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, tourism and programs for the peaceful use of energy such as nuclear, medicine, insect sterilization and others as well as the protection of the environment.
We're following the development, together with the Indonesian authorities, of Peruvian projects related to small and medium enterprises, improvement of health services in isolated regions and the monitoring and evaluation of the El Ni*o phenomenon
My work in Indonesia is a totally new world for me, I'm optimistic about the future of economic ties between the two countries.
Could you tell us about your tourism industry and Peruvian culture?
Peru is an ancient country, with a history of more than 10,000 years of cultural creativity. Throughout the centuries, one of the milestones of Peru has been the encounter of Incas with the European civilization, with whom through Spain, a culture equally millenary happened to combine its blood and values with those of the ancient Peru; and the result of this encounter is the Peru of today.
We receive every year hundreds of thousands of tourists from many countries.
I want more Indonesians to go to Peru to see these things. There is a no need for a visa if Indonesians want to visit Peru.
Peru is known as a land of potatoes. Do you have any special event in Jakarta in connection with your National Day?
In an effort to promote the art of Peruvian cuisine, we are organizing a culinary festival in cooperation with the Hotel Gran Melia in Jakarta from July 24 to July 31. This is a result of fascinating evolution of foods and culture.