Statement delivered by Attaché Quentin Baird
on behalf of Ambassador Michael Punke.
November 13, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The United States is pleased to welcome Mr. Edgar Vasques Vela, Vice Minister for Foreign Trade and Tourism, Ambassador Luis Enrique Chavez Basagoitia, and the entire Peruvian delegation here today on the occasion of Peru’s fourth Trade Policy Review (TPR). The United States would like to thank the WTO Secretariat and the Peruvian government for the informative reports provided to Members prior to this meeting. We also thank the discussant, Ambassador Conejos, for his contribution to this review.
The United States commends Peru for the sound economic policies it has implemented since its last TPR in 2007, which have led to impressive economic growth, even during times of global economic crisis. The cornerstone of Peru’s policies has been an open trade and investment regime, which has helped drive domestic reforms, create jobs, establish a predictable business environment and promote Peru’s social inclusion goals. In January 2009, with the entry in force of the United States – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), Peru progressed from a unilateral preference recipient to a full partner with the United States. A number of reforms that Peru has undertaken to implement the PTPA also extend benefits more broadly to Peru’s other trading partners. These include measures to improve transparency and efficiency, such as in the area of customs procedures.
Four years into the PTPA, two-way trade in goods between the United States and Peru is nearly $16 billion dollars, and the outlook for future growth is positive. In addition to finalizing its trade promotion agreement with the United States, Peru has concluded an extensive list of free trade agreements with other WTO members, and it is in the process of negotiating several additional agreements. The United States is pleased to be working alongside Peru in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, an agreement that seeks to expand economic links between the Americas and the growing markets of the Pacific Rim. Peru also continues to assume an active role in APEC, serving as host government in 2008 and is slated to once again host the Ministerial in 2016. Peru is also a founding member of the Pacific Alliance, a trade integration bloc that includes a number of Latin American countries and has an extensive list of Observer countries.
Peru’s liberalization initiatives, together with favorable commodity prices, have contributed to a reduction in the percentage of Peru’s population living below the poverty line since the last TPR – falling from 42% in 2007 to 28% in 2011. These are especially impressive results given the turbulence the global economy has experienced since 2007.
Peru’s stable democratic institutions coupled with solid economic growth have provided an important example, both regionally and globally, of the benefits of open trade. To ensure that Peru continues to achieve the benefits of liberalization, we encourage Peru to continue its efforts to resolve infrastructure bottlenecks that impede the flow of trade. Investment in upgrades to existing infrastructure, as well as the creation of new infrastructure projects, will further enhance Peru’s competitiveness by reducing the logistical costs of reaching its ports.
The United States takes this opportunity to note concern that Peru has not notified the implementing regulations for a 10-year Moratorium on Live Modified Organisms, per the procedures laid out by the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). We are concerned that the proposed moratorium is not scientifically justified, and could negatively impact trade between Peru and other WTO members. We understand Peru has indicated that it does not need to notify the measure because the measure is intended to protect Peru’s biodiversity. However, we fail to see why the protection of biodiversity would bring the measure outside the ambit of the TBT agreement. Further, we believe the measure could have the unintended consequence of denying Peruvian farmers a valuable tool to help increase food security, farm income, and agricultural productivity in a more environmentally sustainable manner. The United States encourages Peru to submit the implementing regulations for notification, to ensure that all WTO members have an opportunity to comment on the content of the regulations and to ensure that they are consistent with Peru’s international commitments.
We would like to thank Peru for working proactively with U.S. technical experts to resolve concerns over proposed draft regulations that would require foods high in fat, salt and sugar to bear front-of-pack consumption warning statements. We continue to encourage Peru to consider alternate labeling approaches such as mandatory nutrition labeling and use of voluntary claims for foods with low levels of the nutrients of concern, or front of pack labeling that presents the nutrients as part of total dietary recommendations. We believe that such approaches are less trade restrictive, are more consistent with international standards, and are less burdensome for both government and industry.
We also note, as highlighted by the Secretariat report, that Peru is neither a member nor an observer to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). In light of the GPA Parties’ agreement on the revision of the GPA at the WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011, we encourage Peru to review the revised agreement and consider beginning accession negotiations to the GPA. The addition of Peru to the GPA would constitute an important expansion of the GPA, and will provide enhanced opportunities for its exporters to participate in government procurement processes around the world.
The United States appreciates the opportunity to participate in this review and provide observations on a dynamic member of the trading system. We value Peru’s participation in the WTO, and look forward to continued cooperation through our bilateral and plurilateral endeavors.