Foreign trade minister: Peru-Canada FTA ready by weekend

Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Mercedes Aráoz announced that negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with Canada will be finalized this weekend, as part of Peru’s efforts to diversify its market.

Aráoz said an agreement was nearly sealed during a Monday night video teleconference meeting, which settled in-depth and technical details, Agencia Andina reported. “We are going to meet this weekend,” said Aráoz “in order to finalize the details and be able to close the agreement.”

According to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, trade between Peru and Canada totaled $2.38 billion in 2006. Peruvian exports to Canada were $2.1 billion, a 54.3 percent increase over 2005. Peru imported $289 million during the same period, a 9.1 percent increase over 2005.

Peru’s principal exports to Canada are gold, copper, asparagus and fishmeal, while its major imports are cereals, machinery, electrical equipment, leguminous vegetables and paper.

“Canada is also Peru’s most important foreign direct investor in the mining sector and among the largest overall foreign investors with an estimated $2.9 billion of investment stock in Peru in 2006,” says Foreign Affairs Canada.

Peru began negotiations with China this week for a FTA that could be ratified by November 2008. According to Aráoz, the trade negotiations are part of Peru’s strategy to diversify their markets from the United States, their largest trade partner who ratified a FTA with Peru in December 2007.

“If we don’t start spreading our market possibilities beyond the United States market, we run the risk of focusing only on that market,” Agencia Andina quoted Aráoz saying, “and the economic situation in the U.S. could put our exports in a difficult situation.”

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