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Alabama, Peru strengthen economic ties with agreement

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A trade memorandum signed today will strengthen economic ties between Alabama and Peru, setting the stage for increased cooperation between the state and the South American nation.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Peru’s Ambassador to the United States, Harold Forsyth, formalized the agreement when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during a ceremony today in the Governor’s Office at the state Capitol.

Gov. Robert Bentley, right, shakes hands with Ambassador of Peru Harold Forsyth.
Gov. Robert Bentley, right, shakes hands with Ambassador of Peru Harold Forsyth.

The memorandum outlines specific areas of collaboration between Alabama and Peru, including trade and investment, agriculture and aquaculture, science and technology, education and cultural affairs, as well as research, innovation, and forestry. The pact between Alabama and Peru comes amid a sharp upswing in two-way trade after a treaty that went into effect in 2009.

“Exports are extremely important to Alabama businesses. U.S. exports to Peru have increased by 63 percent since the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement in 2009, while Alabama exports to Peru have increased 28 percent during the same period,” Governor Bentley said. “This Memorandum of Understanding will allow Alabama to better take advantage of the opportunities for trade with Peru.”

The signing ceremony followed a private meeting between the two leaders.

“Our country is at the forefront of economic growth in Latin America, and for that matter, to establish an alliance with the state of Alabama, one of the most prosperous in the United States, will serve to promote a series of economic, scientific and cultural initiatives that benefit both peoples,” Ambassador Forsyth said.

Forsyth has served as Peru’s Ambassador to the U.S. since August 2011. A former journalist, he has served his country as a diplomat in the People’s Republic of China, Italy, Colombia, Germany, Canada, and several other nations.

ALABAMA TRADE MISSION

The memorandum follows a trade mission led by Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield in June 2014 to Peru and Uruguay. Eight Alabama businesses participated in the Peru portion of the mission, meeting potential Peruvian business partners in pre-screened business matchmaking appointments. Members of the Alabama delegation also networked with government officials and private sector representatives at a reception in Lima, the Peruvian capital.

After the trade mission concluded, Peru’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., contacted the Alabama Department of Commerce about pursuing an agreement that would create an open dialogue focusing on developing mutually beneficial programs and projects. Peruvian organizations have such pacts with universities in Iowa relating to agricultural research and with the Port of Wilmington in Delaware on port management.

Gov. Bentley listens to the Ambassador Forsyth talks with Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield.
Gov. Bentley listens as Ambassador Forsyth talks with Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield, right.

“A result of the Alabama trade mission to Peru and Uruguay last year, this Memorandum of Understanding represents an important step that will pave the way for increased trade and investment ties between our state and Peru,” Secretary Canfield said.

Alabama exports to Peru totaled $59.2 million in 2013, the last year for which full-year results are available. Alabama-made motor vehicles accounted for nearly half of that total, or $25.2 million. Primary metals, chemicals, and machinery were other top export categories in Alabama trade with Peru.

Two-way trade between the U.S. and Peru has increased 73 percent since the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement went into force in 2009. The agreement immediately resulted in zero-tariff treatment for 80 percent of U.S.-made consumer and industrial products, with tariffs on the remaining items being phased out by 2019. The pact also provided increased protection of intellectual property rights and established a secure legal framework for U.S. investors in Peru.

“Trade missions undertaken by the state always focus on our companies and getting their products into new foreign markets,” said Hilda Lockhart, director of the Commerce Department’s International Trade Division. “The success hinges on our collaboration with partners in those markets and setting up pre-qualified appointments based on the company objectives.

“We also look at a broader brushstroke to bring opportunities back that we can build on at the state level,” she added.  “This MOU with Peru certainly will help us sustain our first efforts in this market.  Conversations with the ambassador and consul general today have already yielded future return visits

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