Peru posts $176 million trade deficit for Jan. 2009, exports fall 39 percent

Peru posted a $176 million trade deficit this January, as prices for primary commodities – such as fish meal, copper and other minerals exports – plummeted by 39 percent, daily El Comercio reported.

“This (disappointing) result is due to the fact that Peru’s most important exporter regions, such as Ancash, La Libertad, Ica, Piura, Arequipa and Junin, are mainly exporting primary products – such as minerals – and this has impacted the regions’ total value of exports,” reported Adex, Peru’s Association of Exporters.

Total regional exports, excluding Lima and its port of Callao, fell by 39 percent this January, mainly because of falling prices for minerals exports and other primary commodities.

In eight of Peru’s regions, however, exports took on a favorable turn, and increased by as much as 59 percent – from $13 million to $21 million – in the highland region of Puno. In Cajamarca, where gold – unfeathered by plummeting mineral prices – is the main export product, the region’s total exports increased by 23 percent to total $126 million.

Despite its considerable economic success last year – Peru posted a $3.09 billion trade surplus in 2008, following a $8.29 billion surplus in 2007 – and the fact that Peru is weathering the global crisis better than most other Latin American countries, it is nevertheless feeling the effects of the global credit crunch and falling commodity prices.

Last October, plummeting prices for copper caused Peru’s exports to fall for the first time since 2002, down 11.4 percent compared to the same month last year. All mining companies have put expansion and development plans on hold, and many are partially suspending activities, or shutting down some of their mines altogether.

Peru is the world’s largest producer of silver, the third largest of copper, zinc and tin, and fifth largest producer of gold. Approximately 60 percent of the country’s export revenue is generated by mining.

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