Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Tuesday guaranteed the United States that his country would be “a working partner” which is prepared to become one of Washington’s strongest allies in South America.
President Barack Obama, who was meeting with Humala at the White House, said that strong bilateral relations will contribute to future investment opportunities for both nations.
“Peru is one of our strongest and most reliable partners in the hemisphere,” Obama said. “We have a strong commercial and trading relationship. We cooperate on a wide range of security issues, including our counter-narcotics efforts. And we spent most of our discussion focused on how we can further deepen this important bilateral relationship.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Humala said that he found “an open environment” in the Obama administration, “where we can build on all the strategic areas so as to strengthen our bonds.”
“We have agreed on the importance of building democracy on respecting human rights, on improving economic openness [and] on working on trade, because this allows our economies to grow and to develop further,” the Peruvian president said. “In addition, we have highlighted that Peru is an important trading partner with the United States. We provide economic growth, we have economic trust, and we also provide legal stability.”
Humala, who was elected in 2011 amidst the assumption that his government would join Venezuela’s leftist Bolivarian alliance, has taken a more moderate stance since coming to office, even embracing free trade with Washington. The United States and Peru are two of the original members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact that includes 11 countries throughout Latin America and Asia. The TPP is one of the biggest trade priorities of Obama’s second term, according to the White House.
The United States is Peru’s second-largest export market and primary supplier of imports; Peru was the United States’ 32nd-largest export market in 2012, up from 36th in 2009, according to a White House fact sheet. Last year, two-way trade in goods between the United States and Peru reached $15.8 billion. Along with Chile, Colombia and Mexico — with Costa Rica soon to join — Peru is a member of the Pacific Alliance, whose leaders in May agreed to break open trade barriers by the end of the month.