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Five Minutes With… Alvaro Silva-Santisteban F, Director, Peru Trade Office – UAE

Five Minutes With… Alvaro Silva-Santisteban F, Director, Peru Trade Office – UAE

Peru hopes to double trade with the UAE this year, according to the head of the Trade, Tourism and Investment Office of Peru in the UAE.

Can you describe the UAE operations of the Trade, Tourism and Investment Office of Peru? What is its current focus?

All of our efforts and plans are geared towards the generation of greater trade, fostering of investments, making Peru a preferred destination and within all, the creation of brand awareness.

One day we can look into how to increase the exports of asparagus, grapes or mangoes whilst creating a campaign that will set Peru as top travel destination, and the next day we can be planning the investment agenda of a fund in energy, infrastructure or agriculture. These are just some examples on the array of more than diverse issues we have to plan and set strategies for.
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As an integral part of the above, planning and properly identifying the best match for all the commercial missions (on an average, one per month) visiting Peru or the UAE also plays an important role.

Our framework is based on the conceptualisation and implementation of activities that we consider of 360 degree implication, meaning that within one activity we articulate all our responsibilities. With a scope as ample as ours, and moreover very different within each other, the activities planned have to account for at least one major display or participation for each sector.

Trade between Peru and the UAE shot up dramatically last year. How?

A key aspect and a pillar to our strategies and activities is communication, but most importantly understanding how and where Peru can make a difference.

Although in terms of numbers we are in the process of reducing the gap when compared to other nations, in terms of growth, the trade figures are more than positive. From 2011 to the end of 2013, Peruvian exports to the UAE have grown by 600 per cent, now the challenge is even greater as we aim to keep the same tendency.

Where do you foresee trade ties between the two countries progressing in the next few years?

There are four sectors where Peru can contribute with a competitive advantage and these are where we foresee greater growth: Food and Beverage, Fashion and Home Decoration, Construction Material and Mining. On another level, sectors that will also start making a difference are auto parts, wood products and its derivatives and metal mechanic.

Apart from trade, which are the other strong areas that pose potential for bilateral relationships?

Apart from trade, investment opportunities and tourism pose as important and interesting sectors to take into consideration.

UAE investments in Peru account to a $1.3 to $1.5 billion portfolio, placing us on the forefront within Latin America.

DP World, operator of the most important port of Peru – Callao – is one of the prominent investors, together with IPIC – International Petroleum Investment Company – with three exploration fields in the country and Abraaj Group, with whose participation we created the first three Peruvian-Emirati companies.

On the tourism front, Peru is currently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 travel destinations, based on a research conducted by Ernst & Young; and in the last statistical report Peru ranks number one as the preferred destination of UAE travellers to South America.

What are the biggest challenges hindering further growth in ties between Peru and the UAE? How can they be resolved?

Although we believe it is changing, the lack of information in terms of the opportunities and possibilities within both nations is still a factor to consider. This, together with air connectivity, I would say are aspects to work on. Currently there are no direct flights between the UAE and Peru, though there are to other South American countries.

We believe it is imperative to generate greater connectivity and thus it is one of our top priorities.

However, it is just a matter of time as we are confident our work is contributing to the solution. Our aim is to have one weekly cargo flight from Peru to the UAE, and a daily commercial flight connecting the two countries.

Any new campaigns that you are planning to launch this year? Will you be expanding operations?

Our objective for 2014 is to be able to showcase the existing synergies between the UAE and Peru and to further materialise our presence in the market. If we do not properly set the fundamentals in place the current achieved growth will not be sustainable. Our aim is that by the end of this year our trading figures should have doubled the ones of 2013. Once this is accomplished, new strategies will come into place.

What’s your leadership style?

Today’s constantly evolving world is one that frequently demands that you adapt to changes in order to be competitive. I believe that one has to be flexible and know how to adapt to different scenarios to be able to create synergies, solve situations and maximise opportunities.

Something that is crucial is to be certain everyone is on the same page. If we all work towards the same objective with different interpretations on strategies and plans it is probable you won’t be as productive.

Communication, creativity, pragmatism, positivism, objective driven, not taking no for answer, loyalty and trust are essential aspects to have.

What makes the perfect employee?

Perfection is about having the best attributes of each person complemented within a team, having thus a perfect ensemble, not a perfect person.

Some of the essential traits to have and to nurture include loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness, knowledge, hardwork, intelligence and confidence, among others.

Define success in five words…

Success is relative to how you envision it, hence achieving it is more about the journey, enjoying the process and benefitting from it.

In one more than the five words: Happiness is the key to success

Three tips for becoming the boss…

I have a formula that incorporates many essentials needed to grow as person and as a professional – 13 to be precise, but if you ask me for three then then I would say:

• Preparation: Know what you know inside out and what you don’t, try to know even more; be creative, cultivate your skills

• Passion: Have passion in what you do but more importantly on how you do it; communicate

• Pro-active: Work hard to deliver more than what is expected; be persistent and perseverant

When I’m not at work I like to…

Sailing is something that I truly cherish either for competing or just for fun. Films and movies is another passion. Arts in general, especially anything related to performances. Discovering what you do not know, learning from other cultures and visiting new places is also enriching.

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