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Peru: Saturday News Roundup – June 16

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Peruvian PM to Visit US

Peruvian Foreign Trade Minister Mercedes Araoz said on Friday that she will travel to Washington on Sunday to negotiate the ratification of a controversial free trade agreement with the United States. Araoz noted that she will stay in the United States until June 20 and will be accompanied by the presidents of the parliamentary committees on Foreign Trade (Carlos Bruce), Foreign Affairs (Rolando Souza), Investments (Cesar Zumaeta) and Economy (Martin Perez). She added that she will meet with US government officials to negotiate the ratification of the FTA, which has been condemned here by major social and political sectors. The ratification of the agreement will depend on modifications demanded by the new US democratic congressional majority of the document signed by then Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo in 2006. Political and social forces opposed to the FTA have asked the government to demand the right to modify the text as well to submit it to a national debate and adjust it to Peru’s interests. (Prensa Latina)

Peruvian Agency Sues Mexican Telecom

A Peruvian government agency said Friday it has filed a lawsuit against a Mexican telephone company for allegedly damaging part of a large pre-Incan cemetery while laying fiber-optic cable.Telefonos de Mexico SA, or Telmex, damaged 720 square feet of the Paracas culture’s site – including the funeral wraps of 2,000-year-old mummies, according to local officials. Alfredo Gonzalez, director of the National Institute of Culture in the department of Ica, where the desert burial site is located, told The Associated Press that the agency is seeking monetary compensation or another a11rrangement, such as public works for the archaeological area, from Telmex. Telmex officials in Lima were not immediately available for comment. The company had been given permission by the institute to lay the cable in the area, but no further details about the work was available.The Paracas culture, dating to between 600 and 100 B.C., thrived on Peru’s southern coast and is known for its intricate and colorful wool weavings. Two years ago in the same area, archeologists attributed about 50 giant figures etched in the ground – including those of humans and animals, including birds, monkeys, and felines – to the Paracas. The designs predate Peru’s famed Nazca lines, which have mystified scientists and were declared an UNESCO Archaeological World Heritage Site in 1994. (Guardian Unlimited)

Tykes snap up Peru ace Mostto

Barnsley have added a touch of South American flair to their squad with the signing of Peru striker Miguel Mostto for an undisclosed fee. he 29-year-old, whose full name is Miguel Angel Mostto Fernandez-Prara, has agreed a two-year contract at Oakwell with the option of a further year. Mostto has passed a medical and will officially join the Tykes from Peruvian side Cienciano on July 1, subject to obtaining a work permit. He has an impressive goalscoring record, hitting the net 59 times in 134 games over the last four seasons, and has been capped 10 times by his country. Barnsley describe the deal as a "substantial transfer fee", the largest the club has splashed out since the £700,000 paid to Nottingham Forest for Neil Shipperley eight years ago. (Teamtalk.com)

Coca cultivation falls in Andean region, more development assistance needed to maintain progress

Coca cultivation in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia fell two percent in 2006 but the three Andean nations need more development assistance if progress in containing the drugs problem is to be maintained, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Wednesday. UNODC’S Coca Cultivation in the Andean Region survey showed that the area under coca cultivation in the world’s main cocaine-producing region slipped to 156,900 hectares in 2006 from 159,600 in 2005. A nine percent fall in Colombia, the world’s largest cocaine grower, offset increases in Bolivia and Peru. Global cocaine production was virtually unchanged at 984 tonnes. "The overall situation is stable, yet fragile," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "Recent evidence suggests that coca cultivation in the Andes can be , and is being , contained. To consolidate this progress, it will take a concerted effort at every stage of the drug trade: more effective prevention and treatment to reduce demand; greater technical assistance and regional co-operation to stop trafficking; and comprehensive national drug control plans, including law enforcement and social and economic development, in order to reduce supply." In the Andean region as a whole, the long-term solution does not lie solely with tougher law enforcement and vigorous eradication measures. The real test is to tackle the root causes of drug supply and demand. "All Andean countries require greater support for development assistance that can generate growth and create brighter prospects for communities at the beginning of the supply chain," Mr Costa said. He also encouraged Andean countries to work together to exchange intelligence on drug trafficking and carry out joint operations. Global demand for cocaine remains steady, with a decline in the United States counter-balanced by a rise in Europe. West Africa is increasingly being used as a transit region for cocaine. "This is an alarming development which, if left unchecked, could undermine the stability of entire African countries. We cannot afford to let new narco-states emerge in this part of the world," Mr Costa said. In Colombia, the area of land under coca cultivation was the lowest in 10 years as the government destroyed record amounts of coca. Coca spraying increased by 24% to cover 172,000 hectares, while manual eradication jumped by one third to almost 42,000 hectares. Significant law enforcement successes were achieved, with 177 tonnes of cocaine seized and more than 2,200 clandestine laboratories destroyed in Colombia. "Nevertheless, Colombia remains the world’s biggest coca grower and is responsible for 62% of the world’s supply of cocaine," the UNODC chief said. "Eradication is having an effect, but deeper and more sustainable cuts will depend on providing further incentives to encourage farmers to voluntarily give up their crops." In Peru, although the area of land under coca production rose seven percent to 51,400 hectares, the government’s national drug control strategy appeared to be working. "In addition to eradication, new tactics are being employed to control the inflow of precursor chemicals, promote the sustainable development of coca growing valleys, prevent drug abuse, and seize assets acquired through the profits of drug trafficking," Mr Costa said. But these tactics were not being evenly applied throughout the country, with the result that some communities remained vulnerable to the temptation of growing coca. In Bolivia, coca cultivation rose eight percent to 27,500 hectares, due to increases in the main cultivation regions, Yungas of La Paz and Chapare. Mr Costa called for sustained drug law enforcement by the Bolivian Government. "The Government needs to reassure the world that its support for coca growers will not lead to an increase in cocaine production," he said. "It can be assisted in this task by greater investment in projects that will benefit poor agricultural regions, and greater support for regional counter-narcotics security that will cut the import of precursor chemicals and the export of drugs." (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

Peru’s GDP Expanded 7.3 Percent in April vs Year Ago (Update2)

Peru’s economy accelerated in April as copper and zinc miners stepped up output while sustained domestic demand stoked manufacturing and construction. Gross domestic product in April expanded 7.3 percent from a year ago compared with 5.6 percent growth in March, the National Statistics Institute said in a statement in Lima. April growth was less than the median estimate for a 7.9 percent expansion in a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts. Revenue inflows from surging metals prices are driving construction, manufacturing and retail sales as demand rises for homes and consumer goods, said Hugo Perea, chief analyst at Banco BBVA Continental in Lima. “The mining industry is rebounding and we’re seeing more diversified growth in the economy,” Perea said in a phone interview. “This will make Peru less vulnerable to a drop in commodities.” Peru, the world’s third-largest copper and zinc producer, boosted copper output 6.4 percent on the startup of an $850 million upgrade at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Cerro Verde mine, while zinc jumped 16.4 percent on gains at Minera Antamina, the world’s largest copper-zinc mine. Natural gas doubled on rising output at the Camisea gasfields. Construction, the second-biggest source of jobs, grew 13 percent, while manufacturing and retail sales both rose 10 percent and electricity rose 8.6 percent.More Jobs Growth has created jobs and boosted average monthly income 3.3 percent to 913 soles ($288) in May, institute Director Renan Quispe told reporters in Lima. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in May from 9 percent in April. “It’s clear job creation and higher wages are giving people more purchasing power,” Quispe said. The Peruvian sol gained 0.1 percent to 3.1675 soles per dollar, an eight-year high, even as the central bank bought $40 million on the exchange market today. The sol has gained 0.8 percent so far this year. The yield on Peru’s 9 7/8 bond due 2015 fell 3 basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 5.92, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bond’s price, which moves inversely to its yield, rose 0.20 cent on the dollar to 124.
(By Alex Emery – Bloomberg.com)

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