This short message comes all the way from Peru, where a new president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, was elected to office at the end of July 2016 (enjoying broad acceptance and recognition), and where the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit will be hosted this year, with the participation of heads of state including President Barack Obama. This country is undergoing rapid transformation, and is looking to accelerate its development.
Together with the Chamber of Commerce and Culture of Belgium and Luxembourg in Peru (CCBLP), we are interested in a new internal market. Although there is already a solid base of well-established companies of all sizes, a new middle class is emerging, with new capital, but a class which is often only just taking its first steps in the local economy. A market which is in search of its own brands, or new positioning, is appearing in various parts of this country, which is 42 times bigger than Belgium.
At the CCBLP, which is a member of EuroCámaras, or the Association of European Chambers registered in Peru, we have also focused on various initiatives such as the ELANBiz and ELANNetwork meetings and seminars which are financed by the European Union. We are also open to the active population of this social level, which is also looking for new contacts, new markets, and keen to rise up to a higher level either by themselves or with partners. Additionally, we have patronized and sponsored initiatives such as EuroMundo, which aims to connect with the lower classes of the population in a modest, but direct and more immediate manner, given that this part of the population generates considerable amounts in economic terms, up to hundreds of millions, in an economy which is still largely informal. EuroMundo is looking at how the official part of the economy can be approached both without fingers getting burned, and with new possibilities. It is avidly embracing new technologies, whilst remaining cautious of the new challenges. For example, we have seen events such as "NEXOS+1" by Libelula, which we also patronized and whose main themes included sustainable innovation. Various organisations took part in this event, including NGOs, established companies and potential small investors, as well as banks such as the CAF (Development Bank for Latin America - https://www.caf.com), and various other organisations and personalities from the political world such as Mercedes Araoz, Vice President of the country.
It is essential that Belgium, Wallonia and Brussels adopt a strong position in Peru, the hub of South America's west coast.
Moreover, Flanders is aiming to establish a significant presence in the near future by appointing an advisor/trade attaché who is part of FIT (Flanders Invest and Trade), and who will be based in Lima and work within the Belgian Embassy.
This isn't straightforward given the investment required, but now is the right time to do it. Places are not yet too expensive and there is a certain level of openness.
The uncertainty associated with new political, economic, military and other trends within various countries following an election of new presidential and other figures requires that footholds are diversified even more, and new markets are approached more actively, especially those which are on the fringes of highly traditional sectors.