This year, 2017, began with the appointment of a new Attaché/Trade Advisor with an office in the Belgian Embassy. Previously, this position was skilfully and effectively held by an AWEX representative, but who, inconveniently from a Peruvian perspective, resided in Columbia and not directly in Peru. Therefore, this time the new Attaché is from FIT (Flanders Invest & Trade), which seems to have understood the importance of this country and our presence in its capital. This Attaché will be presented to the Belgian community in Peru on 6 April 2017.
Early 2017 was marked by the impact, particularly in the country's north, of a long-standing recurrent phenomenon, "el Niño". This name was given by the fishermen of the village of Paita in northern Peru to the arrival of a marine current, warm water which comes up against the South American continent in this area and depending on its strength spreads more or less powerfully from there over the South American coast. This phenomenon occurred repeatedly around 24/25 December, which made the area's inhabitants think of the coincidence with Christmas and the birth of the "child" Jesus and call it el "Niño" (the child). The climate disruptions caused by this may prove to be dramatic in certain areas of the country, due to torrential rains, floods, landslides and damage to private and public infrastructures (buildings, roads, bridges, drinking water supplies, electricity, etc.).
Shortcomings in terms of infrastructure designed to prevent the collateral effects of the climate phenomenon, constructions in flood-risk zones and other temporarily dried water courses
, ignore "the memory" of flowing rivers. Despite the solidarity demonstrated by the inhabitants and businesses, the authorities' responsiveness in rescuing victims, trying to overcome disadvantages, to go out every time the phenomenon occurs more strongly or even with extreme violence, the momentary or longer situation of distress and chaos can extend over several weeks or indeed several months.
While it is undeniable that Europe, the United States or Asia are also experiencing damage caused by natural disasters, floods, storms, etc., the contribution of new solutions designed to improve administrative, civil defence and protection systems for inhabited areas or those housing vital or important structures for the country and its inhabitants, new solutions in terms of managing and generating drinking water, clean renewable energies, security systems, standards and creativity, it seems to us that European expertise and certainly that of Belgium and even more specifically Wallonia and Brussels could find vitally important partnerships and substantial mutual benefits.
In addition to the country's surface area, the different landscapes and characteristics of its geography, its biodiversity and elements of its heritage in terms of food and others are subject to
successful collaboration using not only the country's products and services, but also knowledge, expertise and engineering leading to added value, a significant asset
, from my perspective, specific trademark or signature for Belgians, Brussels residents and Walloons generally, highly appreciated in Peru.
It should be noted that while in recent years, the reputation of Belgium has made a mark in the country, on the quality and variety of its beers, the quality and fineness of its chocolates, we must keep in mind that others can attempt to take these "first places" from us in the minds of local populations and authorities, both in these fields as in others.
We therefore believe it is more than necessary not to sit still in all the fields where our expertise could make the difference in this country, strategically located as the best "hub" on the South American Pacific coast. Many opportunities, many needs, shortages, a large labour force to be trained, universities seeking to establish themselves, temporary and/or long-term facilities and solutions to be provided.
And despite the difficulties and processes in combating the administrative labyrinths, a certain degree of corruption, mentalities not always on the same wavelength, for Europe, Belgium, Brussels and Wallonia, Peru is still a first class opportunity in a country that continues to achieve a growth of +3% annually and enjoys remarkable political stability.
I suggest that we increase our actions and visibility in this country and strengthen the powers and new resources of those who can confidently support Europe, Belgium and, of course, Brussels and Wallonia in particular.