OBG talks to José Luis Silva Martinot, Minister of Foreign Trade & Tourism



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José Luis Silva Martinot, Minister of Foreign Trade & Tourism

Interview: José Luis Silva Martinot

What is your vision for boosting trade with the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC)?

JOSE LUIS SILVA MARTINOT: Peru has diversified foreign trade interests and we are not seeing any notable effects on trade levels from the crisis in the US and Europe. On the contrary we are seeing strong growth in both tourism and foreign trade. However, we are taking precautionary measures. If the crisis does begin to affect us, we are prepared. Part of our strategy is centred in our local market and boosting trade with neighbouring countries, since the economic crisis is, above all, affecting countries in the northern hemisphere, not so much in the southern one. With Brazil we are looking to strengthen trade relations despite the obstacle of tariffs since there is a political will on both sides towards the solving of this difference. With respect to Russia and India we are considering the convenience of creating future trade relations and maybe an economic agreement. With China we already have a free trade agreement (FTA), thanks to which China has become very quickly one of our principal trade partners.

How is Peru positioning itself as a trade platform between the some of the world’s largest economies?

SILVA: We have attracted foreign investors looking to develop their productivity chain and do business via Peru with countries we have FTAs with. Our geostrategic location in Latin America gives us a natural advantage. This network of FTAs offers many multilateral trade opportunities. For example, South Korea and the US do not have an FTA, but we have agreements with both countries so Korean companies can use Peru as a platform to export to the US. In the same way the US can use Peru as a platform for exporting goods to Asia, Brazil, Chile or Argentina.

What are some of the key benefits from the FTAs with Japan, Korea and China?

SILVA: These agreements provide favourable environments for high-quality investments, with Peru chosen above other countries in the region. This investment will bring cutting edge technology and its associated skills, modernising our productive capacity and increasing human capital. These FTAs reduce duties on technological goods that Peru does not manufacture domestically but needs for research and to contribute to development. The reduction of duties for capital goods will make industries more competitive. This will allow them entry to markets and displace competitors.

The agreements also allow Peru to cooperate with world powers. Peru is now more likely to be chosen for the cooperation Japan, Korea and China award each year in areas such as research, science and technology, education, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), mining, industry and agriculture, among others.

How can the value of Peru’s resources be increased?

SILVA: The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism ( Ministerio de Comercio Exterior y Turismo del Perú, MINCETUR) has developed a framework of strategies up to 2016, in line with government policies of social inclusion and the continuation of trade liberalisation.

We have the SME Exporters Programme, which will channel resources to aid Peruvian firms through the promotion of clusters. MINCETUR has established a legal framework so that the Centres for the Innovation of Export Technology can provide technical assistance, training, specialised information, advice on foreign trade, quality control and certification for the export of value-added goods and services. Another initiative is the Promotion of Assisted Exports, designed to increase the competitiveness of firms with export potential and of those already exporting, giving them management capabilities and tools. Further, the Platform of Electronic Services facilitates SME financing.

As a result of this strategy, 1500 SMEs in the prioritised chains are going to be channelled to external markets. Included among the group of prioritised industries will be manufacturers in food, drink, textiles and wood products, along with the entire fishing industry.

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