It’s not surprising that Peru‘s ambassador to the U.S. is making the rounds these days. He’s in the envious position of being a bearer of good news.
Ambassador Harold Forsyth shared that good news during a breakfast program of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held at the Telemundo office in Duluth on June 12.
During the past five years, Peru has benefited from one of the best economic records in Latin America despite the global financial crisis and the slowdown of China‘s economy, Mr. Forsyth said.
Its achievements include high growth rates, low inflation, macroeconomic stability, reduction of external debt and poverty and significant advances in social and development indicators.
The country experienced an average growth rate of 6.4 percent from 2002-12 and 5 percent last year. The ambassador cited envious growth in per capita income without denying gross income disparities and the continued poverty of many in the countryside.
Free trade agreements with the United States, Latin American and other countries in the world have played an important role in fostering the positive numbers, he said. Peru has signed a dozen such agreements since its agreement with the U.S. in February 2009.
When it comes to analyzing the impact of free trade agreements, however, Mr. Forsyth said that the best is yet to come. He is positive about the Pacific Alliance that has reduced trade and travel barriers among Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
But he considers the pending Trans Pacific Partnership, the huge agreement that would bind the U.S. and Canada with 10 Asian-Pacific nations, as potentially “the most powerful and strongest in the world.”
And he couldn’t hold back his opinion that it would dwarf a similar trans-Atlantic agreement with the European Union.
Mr. Forsyth was optimistic about the Trans Pacific Partnership being signed by the end of the year. Yet he isn’t waiting for Washington and the other capitals to resolve their differences.
Quite frankly, he said that he was in Georgia and has been traveling state to state to sign individual memorandums of understanding and agreements in an effort to keep the economic momentum his country has enjoyed.
“I personally have made a tremendous effort to sign agreements with individual states,” he said. “This is a very unusual way of doing things.”
Already, he has signed such agreements with California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Utah and West Virginia.
Without revealing which ones, he said that he was working with three more states in an effort “to promote direct cultural, scientific, economic and commercial cooperation.”
While dead serious about developing agreements with states, he’s looking for other opportunities as well and has put ports in his sites. Aware of the initiative to deepen access to the port of Savannah, he said directly, “If you say Savannah, you have to use it.”
Mr. Forsyth added that he doesn’t limit partnership thinking to economics. Education is very much on his mind as well, he said, noting that he is a firm supporter of President Obama‘s “100,000 Strong in the Americas,” the plan to have 100,000 students and educators sent in both directions by 2020.
He especially feels this way, he said, since meeting with former President Carter the morning beforehand who encouraged him to seek out partnerships with Georgia institutions of higher learning.
What the ambassador failed to address on the micro-level, Erick Aponte, Peru’s trade counselor based in Miami filled in.
Mr. Aponte said that Peru had benefited from a growing consciousness in the U.S. of the health challenges presented by an increasingly obese population as well as an aging population.
Americans want healthier lifestyles,” he said, and Peru is doing its best by providing fruits and vegetables to meet that demand. Even $30 million worth of onions were shipped into Atlanta last year, he said, without mentioning the competition provided by locally grown Vidalia onions.
Health consciousness goes beyond diet, he added, with Peru providing organic products for cosmetics and textiles.
Peru also offers many opportunities for Georgia investors, he said. Already it imports a wide variety of goods including turbines, woodpulp, and textile floor covering, but the opportunities for foreign direct investment remain unfulfilled.
He cited the growth of retail goods for Peru’s emerging middle class and then opportunities for agriculture and tourism infrastructure, water treatment facilities, and housing, among others.
For more information, cal the Consulate General of Peru at (678) 336-7010