Exports from Peru to the UAE increased from $6mn in 2011 to $600mn last year, according to the Dubai-based Trade, Tourism and Investment Office of Peru (TTIOP).
This has prompted massive investment in logistics infrastructure by DP World and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
The emirates imports vast quantities of goods from the South American country, including avocados, quinoa, asparagus, gold, high-quality craft products and clothing. These imports have grown 10,000% in seven years.
This has encouraged UAE businesses such as DP World and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to make multi-million-dollar investments in the country’s shipping, logistics and energy sectors.
"The leap in exports from Peru to the UAE has been huge," said Alvaro Silva-Santisteban, director of the TTIOP. "The relationship between the two countries has grown in importance over the years to an extent that at the end of last year Peru became the second largest investment destination for Emirati companies in South America, and amongst the three biggest trading partners for the UAE in Latin America.
In May, DP World sealed a $316mn deal for Cosmos Agencia Maritima, the Peruvian container and logistics firm. It is now managing not only the major port of Callao, next to the capital Lima, but also the port of Paita, in the north of Peru, the second biggest in terms of movement of shipping containers.
The port operator now handles around 95% of all Peruvian container traffic to the UAE, but the great distance between the two countries remains a major challenge.
"Our greatest challenge is connectivity. It takes around 42 days to ship goods from Peru to the UAE, so produce is often shipped to a port in Europe and from there flown to Dubai," said Silva-Santisteban.
"A connecting flight between Dubai and Lima would certainly help. Using a European hub means additional cost and thus a product that is more expensive, so your Peruvian avocado or mango is going to cost more. It also means tourists face issues in getting to Peru, especially UAE residents who prefer to fly direct with the country’s major airlines."
The TTIOP was set up in Dubai in 2011, with the aim of encouraging not only companies in the Emirates to import products from Peru, but to also help businesses in the South American country to see the UAE as a lucrative market.