A friendly demeanour, a deep composure and a personality that could give a run for money to showbiz models, these are a few words that come to my mind while describing Carolina Vasquez, Trade Commissioner ProChile, at the Embassy of Chile in New Delhi. As I met Carolina in her office recently, we ended up discussing much more than just the agenda i.e. wine, and that afforded me to acquaint with her both as a professional and as an individual.
Carolina arrived in India on her present assignment in May 2015 amid a positive business atmosphere where the new Government had already initiated a slew of measures for simplifying trade.
Having been to the country thrice earlier on official trips (a visit to the Taj Mahal already accomplished), India is not new to her, but this time there is a lot to discover, courtesy her ongoing stint as the Trade Commissioner.
ProChile is the institution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile in charge of promoting exports of products and services. Its primary responsibilities are dissemination of foreign investment opportunities and tourism promotion. With a network of over 50 offices worldwide it aims to boost Chile’s export sector and position the country in international markets.
Here’s getting upfront with Carolina Vasquez (CV), starting with turning the Spotlight on her :
Me: A few words about yourself .
CV: I am from Santiago, the capital of Chile and have lived throughout in the same city. I am a Commercial Engineer and an MBA.
Me: Considering the trade between India and Chile,which are the key sectors on both sides?
CV: The key sector for Chile is mainly copper which represents a little over 90 % of our exports to India. However we are working to diversify the exportable offer to India as wines , fresh fruits, nuts, and seafood . It is noteworthy to mention that around 27 Chilean vineyards are already selling their products in India. Given the positive forecasts for wine trade in India, we would like to expand this presence.
As for Indian exports to Chile, the key sectors are automobiles and pharma, but clearly our country offers more space for Indian products such as textiles and handicrafts.
Me: Chile being one of the major wine producers of the new world how would you plan to promote your wines to compete against other new world biggies like Australia and the USA?
CV: We believe that before considering what actions to take with reference to “competition” it is more important that we generate a recognition of Brand Chile and the products from our country. It is precisely why we are working on market awareness programs like “Foods From Chile”, of which wine forms an important part.
We also believe that it is vital to generate a plan with Indian consumers who are recognised more as whisky drinkers- wine being a relatively new product for them. Additionally, the Embassy is working together with our Commercial office for possible visits by relevant authorities from our country with the aim of developing promotional activities around these visits.
Me: India is a major market for Spirits ( 5th largest importer). Are there any Chilean Spirits (like Pisco) currently in the Indian market? How would you like to tap this lucrative market?
CV: Presently Chilean Pisco is not present in the Indian market. However, Chilean companies are very much interested to explore the Indian spirits market and I agree that a lucrative opportunity exists in this segment. We would do everything within our means to support Chilean producers for getting access to the Indian spirits market.
Me: Any thoughts for promoting wine tourism in Chile? Especially considering the heightened interest of wine lovers and professionals from this region in visiting vineyards across the world.
CV: Turismo Chile is the office responsible for promoting tourism in our country. They are working hard in promoting wine tourism in Chile where many Chilean wineries offer a number of activities and options like one day wine tour, massage therapies with wine etc. The offers in our country are very diverse in this area. There is a whole section dedicated to these activities in the official website of Turismo Chile : http://chile.travel/que-hacer/vinos-y-comida/rutas-del-vino/
Me: Are Visa arrangements between India and Chile simple enough? How long does it take for an Indian to be granted a Chilean tourist Visa?
CV: The Chilean government has simplified the Visa application process significantly. One can now register for a Chilean Visa online by going through the link https://tramites.minrel.gov.cl. Approval of Visa application could take up to 15 working days from date of on-line registration. Once the Visa application is approved, the applicant has 90 days to make the payment and withdraw his passport. After Visa issue , the applicant has 90 days to enter the national territory of Chile.
For applicants from outside the National Capital Region of Delhi who are unable to visit the embassy personally, they can authorize a third party to represent them by presenting the original letter of authorization / power of attorney duly notarized, for collecting the documents.
Me: If you may like to share, what are your engagements outside the professional space in India?
CV: I have a small family in India with my husband and our two cats who traveled with us from Chile. We are rather simple people who like the simple pleasures of life such as enjoying a movie or listening to music with a glass of wine. We chat and laugh a lot all the time , sometimes we go out to Delhi on a motorcycle. My husband is a Computer Engineer, two very different streams that keeps monotony at bay. It also affords us to have completely different perceptions on various subjects, making it stimulating to exchange views wherein a simple conversation can be transformed into a debate of ideas, which I think is a wonderful thing.
Me: One thing each, that you like and dislike about India.
CV: What I like about India is the large number of spices that can be found easily. The flavors I can find here are very different than those I have come across earlier. Since I like to cook, it is a subject that captivates me. Therefore I love going to the market for the spices and spend hours touring each of the shops enjoying each one of them at leisure.
What I do not like in India or perhaps in Delhi are the noisy streets with lot many horns blaring. But the positive aspect is that the scenario has improved a lot from the last time I was here.
Me: According to you, Which is the most common aspect between Chile and India?
CV: The love for food
Me: And the most different aspect?
CV: The climate 🙂