Peru and the Dominican Republic will begin this year negotiations for a free trade agreement, said the Caribbean nation’s deputy minister for industry and commerce, Marcelo Puello, according to state news agency Andina.
Puello said President Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic is interested in beginning talks, which will likely begin in the second half of the year.
Peru’s Foreign Trade Minister Martin Pérez said the negotiations with the Dominican Republic would take place parallel to free trade talks with Panama and other Central American countries.
Pérez added that Peru currently has a positive trade balance with the Dominican Republic. Bilateral trade between the countries in 2009 totaled $89.67 million, a 283 percent jump from 2005 when trade was $23.4 million.
Peru’s non-traditional goods have routinely accounted for about 98 percent of the country’s exports to the Dominican Republic over the last five years. These include non-metallic minerals and jewellery.
Pérez arrived in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday as part of a trade mission with the Caribbean country.
Besides exploring commercial opportunities in the Dominican Republic, Pérez said the visit is also intended to try and establish ties with Venezuela.
“Without a doubt it is a very strategic visit that we will have with the Dominican Republic,” Pérez said the day before arriving in the Caribbean. “They have an excellent relationship with the Venezuelan government and in this way we will try to reach them.”
“We are going to ask the Dominican Republic’s foreign trade minister to help us build a political bridge with Venezuela to become closer with the government of President Hugo Chávez.”
A customs agreement between Peru and Venezuela expires this year, Pérez said. He added that Peru is looking to sign another trade deal with Venezuela to maintain those benefits for Peruvian businesses.