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Peru is Korea's gateway to Latin America, says vice FM

Peruvian vice foreign minister promotes the country's $1.5b economic revitalization plan for Korea's participation

May 15, 2023 - 20:04 By Sanjay Kumar
Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Ignacio Higueras speaks in an interview with The Korea Herald at Four Seasons Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on Monday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Ignacio Higueras urged South Korea to partner with the Peruvian government’s "Con Punche Peru" measures in an interview with The Korea Herald last month.

Con Punche Peru is a rapid execution plan initiated by the Peruvian government with investments of $1.5 billion.

The plan aims to create 130,000 jobs by 2023 and recover from a critical economic situation by focusing on families, as well as the regional and national economy, to reactivate Peru’s economic landscape.

Korean companies should consider taking part in projects in transportation, the construction of roads, sanitation and health in Peru, suggested the vice minister.

Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Ignacio Higueras and Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Kang Jae-Kwon attend the seventh meeting of Korea-Peru High-Level Political Consultations on April 17 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul.(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Higueras visited Seoul on the 60th anniversary of Peru-Korea diplomatic relations, where he attended the sixth meeting of the Korea-Peru Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation and the seventh Korea-Peru High-Level Political Consultations.

In the consultations, Peru and Korea assessed that trade has doubled since the Korea-Peru FTA took effect in 2011 and agreed to cooperate in energy, resources and industries such as digital and green industries.

The two countries also signed the Korea-Peru Agreement for air services between and beyond their respective territories on April 18.

The agreement will open new doors to strengthening connectivity, Higueras told The Korea Herald. He hopes to see flights from Incheon to Lima and vice versa connecting Korea, Europe and Latin America.

Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Ignacio Higueras and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Lee Do-hoon attend the 7th Meeting of the Korea-Peru High-level Policy Consultation on April 17 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

He also expressed hope in strengthened people-to-people contact, businesses and tourism.

According to Higueras, Peru wants to stimulate interactions with Korean civil society to link Korea with many other Latin American countries.

Higueras introduced 16 public-private partnership investment projects worth $300 million in transportation, mining, hydrocarbons, electricity, sanitation, telecommunications and agriculture, inviting Korean companies to participate.

He also referred to Korean investments of $117 million in Peru’s Pachapaqui mine expansion project in Bolognesi province, located 240 kilometers north of Lima.

"Peru has an infrastructure deficit but has the resources to overcome it," Higueras stressed, explaining Peru's intention to reach out to Korean companies.

Referring to Korea's fast-growing investments in Peru, which reached $44 million in 2021 from a mere $0.8 million in 1994, Asia's fourth-largest economy has become a strong partner of the Latin American country.

"Korea is becoming a strong ally in the Peruvian region, offering complementary opportunities, shared political principles and economic aspects such as a free trade agreement (FTA), a double taxation agreement and an investment chapter," said Higueras.

The Peru-Korea FTA entered into force on Aug. 11, 2011, while the double taxation agreement entered into force on March 13, 2014.

"South Korea is Peru’s fourth-largest trading partner in the world, the third-largest destination market for its exports, and the 12th-largest origin of its imports," underlined Higueras.

Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Ignacio Higueras discusses investment opportunities for Korean companies in an interview with The Korea Herald at Four Seasons Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on Monday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

According to Higueras, the suitability of Peru's fiscal measures, reduced fiscal deficit, low public debt ratio and considerable foreign exchange reserves make Peru a stable investment destination for Korea.

He called upon Korean companies and corporations to join projects funded by Peru and government-to-government deals, citing the example of Chinchero International Airport, with its estimated cost of $593 million.

The airport is to cover 454 hectares, handle more than 5 million passengers a year, and connect visitors to Machu Picchu, a symbol of the 15th-century Incan Empire in the Andes Mountains.

Acknowledging Korea’s leading role in the digital age, Higueras expressed Peru’s strong confidence in Korea's expertise, experience and transparency.

Now is the best time for Peru and Korea to share technology and innovation to undertake projects in agriculture, public policy and governance, said Higueras.

When asked about Peru’s stance on the inclusion of South Korea as a member of the Pacific Alliance, the Latin American trade bloc of Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, Higueras extended his support to Korea.

"Peru fully supports Korea becoming an associate member of the Pacific Alliance," he emphasized, highlighting that South Korea has been one of the main trading partners in the Pacific Alliance as an observer state since 2014.

Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Ignacio Higueras and 1st Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin propose a toast at a dinner reception marking the 60th anniversary of Peru-Korea bilateral relations hosted by the Peruvian Embassy in Seoul at the Peruvian Ambassador's residence in Itaewon-dong, Seoul on Monday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

"We have done things between the Pacific Alliance and Korea," he said, adding that Korea meets the conditions to be an associate member.

"Korea has already signed FTAs with the four member countries of the Pacific Alliance," Higueras said, hoping that negotiations for a better agreement to deepen all provisions will help.

"Peru will be very happy to make it happen as soon as possible," he said.

Asked whether there is any missing link in Peru-Korea diplomatic relations, the vice minister pointed to geographical distance as a major gap and suggested activating not only high-level visits but also people-to-people ties and tourism moving forward.

Taking the 60th anniversary of Peru-Korea ties as an opportunity for bolstering bilateral relations, he wished to see more exchanges on the civilian level.

He said he would like to invite Korean nationals to ecological sites in the Amazon, Arequipa and Lima while encouraging Peruvians to visit Busan, the South Korean port city bidding to host the 2030 World Expo.