For many people abroad when they think of Peru they think of people playing the Andean flute, the high peaks of the Andes, and the llamas; they do not necessarily link Peru or Lima with the dessert. And yet, a large portion of the territory is covered by dessert land, including where several millions live. This is why water preservation in these territories is of unique importance, and the State of Israel knows this very well. Israel, a global leader on drip irrigation systems and water management, has been assisting Peru with water preservation techniques already for some time. The Ica Valley – Peru’s principal agro-export valley from where we get fabulous grapes, artichokes and asparagus to name a few products – is one example where such techniques are essential.
_Peru This Week_ visited Israeli Ambassador to Peru, Ehud M. Eitam, who told us more about the relationship and ties between his country and Peru. Peru and Israel, he says, enjoy very good relations ever since the State of Israel was created. He adds that Peru was instrumental in the creation of his country as it voted in favor of the UN resolution recommending the partition plan for Palestine in 1947 and creating the State of Israel. In 1958, Israel opened an Embassy in Lima. Since then, diplomatic and commercial relations have been ongoing, and are always expanding. Last year, Peru opened a commercial office in Tel Aviv, and Israel intends to open a similar one in Lima this year. With Peru becoming a middle income country, it is only expected that investments and economic collaboration will grow substantially, Ambassador Eitam tells us.
_Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel(Photo courtesy of Embassy of Israel in Peru)_
Currently, Israeli investments in Peru are approaching US$ 2 billion, namely placed in infrastructure in the energy sector, including the construction of two gas power plants and one hydroelectric plant. Telecommunications is another sector of interest to Israel as they work on expanding communication and access to internet in the rural areas; in the agricultural sector, they continue to provide technical assistance in water treatment and advanced irrigation systems where they are leaders worldwide.
The trade between the two countries amounts to US$ 100 million with the balance in favor of Israel. While Israeli exports are mainly in the areas of hi-technology and telecommunications, Peru exports are mainly metals and agricultural products such as coffee. Ambassador Eitam believes there is great potential to expand the trade and diversify it, and believes a free trade agreement between the two countries would be something beneficial to both.
_Jerusalem(Photo courtesy of Embassy of Israel in Peru)_
Israel is a country that is constantly looking for new markets, he says. A stable economy and an open and friendly attitude towards Israel make Peru an interesting place to invest. Israel is already an observer at the Alianza del Pacífico as it sees it as an interesting market with a huge potential. Recently, a delegation from Israel participated in a meeting of the Alianza in Lima where agriculture, water, environment and innovation were largely discussed. This year, a group of senior Peruvians –from both the public and private sector- invited by the State of Israel, visited the Middle Eastern country to further explore the potential for a future collaboration in the field of innovation. Discussions are still ongoing, and there is even talk about the possibility of the Alianza opening an office in Tel Aviv, the Ambassador tells us.
_Mamilla pedestrian mall by night(Photo courtesy of Embassy of Israel in Peru)_
Education and capacity building are key elements in Israel’s international cooperation program (MASHAV). In this regard, more than 4,000 Peruvians have benefitted with scholarships so far. Each year, a considerable number of Peruvians visit Israel for courses in different fields such as agriculture, water, and special education, to name a few specialized areas. In addition, each year 30 students of agriculture travel to Israel for a one-year program which combines practical and theoretical training.
Israel is also a country known for providing assistance in disaster situations. As the Ambassador recalls, the state of Israel was present with medical and rescue assistance during the earthquake that hit Pisco in 2007. In terms of security, Israel has trained the Peruvian Police, both in ‘police – community relations’ and anti-criminal and anti-terrorist activities, the Ambassador tells us.
Our time was over and the Ambassador had to run to meet his fellow Jewish men and women living in Peru which are in the several thousands, and an important community that contributes to the growth of the Peruvian economy, he says. Before leaving, he reiterated his commitment to strengthen Peruvian and Israeli economic and commercial ties, and contribute to the development of Peru through four main axes: innovation, transfer of technology, education, and water and agriculture. _Peru This Week_ visited Israeli Ambassador to Peru, Ehud M. Eitam, who told us more about the relationship and ties between his country and Peru.