Posted : 2013-04-14 19:24
Updated : 2013-04-14 19:24

Peru drums up Korean capital

Javier Illescas, president of Peru's investment promotion agency, ProInversion, makes a presentation during an investment seminar at Grand Hyatt in Seoul, April 10. / Courtesy of Peruvian Embassy

By Kim Se-jeong

Last week, the president of Peru's investment promotion agency flew into Korea but wasn't too disturbed by the escalating tension on the peninsula.

Javier Illescas' thinking was focused on a two-day investment seminar and getting Korean investors seriously interested in new projects in Peru.

A public organization, ProInversion is the gateway to all public investment opportunities in the Latin American country, and he brought with him portfolios of 20 projects that are in the pipeline.

"I hope more Korean companies will be interested and come to invest in Peru," Illescas told local journalists during a press meeting at the Grand Hyatt, April 10.

During the investment seminar, he briefed on each project.

Energy-related ones were among the many items discussed.

Peru is blessed with abundant natural gas reserves, yet it still lacks facilities on the ground to process, store and deliver to customers. A couple of Korean companies are already investing in gas and mineral resources.

The president also briefed on a plan to construct a new airport, a port and a subway line and to maintain major highways. A project to construct a new subway line in the capital city of Lima attracted high interest and a number of inquiries from prospective investors.

Water-related projects illustrate a challenge that Peru is facing.

Getting secure running water for citizens has been a long-term challenge, especially for Lima, the second most populated desert capital in the world after Cairo. Speaking to the Financial Times, Abel Cruze, president of Peruvians Without Water said in the next five to 20 years, "Lima will be under very serious water stress, governments will have to find ways to bring water down from the Amazon or even desalinize the sea."

Construction of a water desalination plant, water storage, drinking water distribution pipelines and sewage and water treatment along were among the projects.

"We're trying to get people water," president Illescas told The Korea Times.

These new projects speak volumes about Peru's determination to move its economy forward.

Spearheaded by President Ollanta Humala who is almost two years into his job, the economy managed six-percent growth, unusual in the current economic climate.

The government pours money into building infrastructure which creates job opportunities and spurs new economic activities.

Future prospects are good for Peru. So are those for Peru-Korea bilateral relations.

As Ambassador of Peru Jaime Pomareda said in a recent interview, bilateral relations are gathering momentum.

The visit of Peruvian President Humala in May to Korea last year was a symbol of growing political relations. Peru also sent Vice President Marisol Espinoza as an envoy to President Park Geun-hye's inauguration in February.

Kang Chang-hee, speaker of National Assembly, just returned from Peru where he met the president. Speaking at a reception last week celebrating the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Peru and Korea, Kang stressed positive prospects for the two nations.

On the economic front, the free trade agreement between Seoul and Lima cannot be ignored.

Coming into force in August 2011, the accord is fueling the pace and volume of the trade and investment.

Korea was Illescas' second stop of a three-leg trip across Asia. The president came from Beijing before Seoul, and will stop in Tokyo after Korea before returning home.

As an economist and a former chief negotiator for the Peru-U.S. FTA, he said his trip reflects the rise of Asia and Peru's shifting priorities to the region.

The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership and the Pacific Alliance illustrates the increasing importance of Asia, and Peru is a member to both new regional economic frameworks.

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