On Monday, January 31, I had the honor of launching the U.S. Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Peru and Ecuador in a room full of U.S., Peruvian, and Ecuadorian business leaders, government officials, and news reporters.
Peru’s Minister of Agriculture, Rafael Quevedo, and Ecuador’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Ramon Espinel spoke of the wonderful opportunity this mission affords their agricultural sectors to develop business ties with U.S. companies. I echoed their excitement, while emphasizing the importance of trade to all of us. With President Obama’s call to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014, expanding market opportunities is even more imperative.
The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) is a great example of the mutual benefits of bilateral trade. U.S. agricultural exports to Peru grew from $424 million in 2008, to $518 million in 2009, and further to $691 million through November 2010. U.S. agricultural imports from Peru were 18% higher in the first 10 months of 2010 than the same period in 2009.
Following the opening ceremony, Peru’s Agriculture Minister Quevedo, Ecuador’s Agriculture Minister Espinel, and I held a media briefing to explain the objectives of the trade mission and to answer questions from reporters. Afterward, I held bilateral meetings with my Peruvian and Ecuadorian counterparts to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Yesterday I spoke to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Peru and met with former Peruvian participants in USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program and Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Programs. Today I’m visiting the International Potato Center, a dairy farm and a feed mill – I look forward to providing you with more details about these activities on Friday, February 4.