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Utah business leaders seek for trade opportunities with Latin countries

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Sep 9th, 2013 @ 8:30pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah and Peru have had a business relationship since 1915, and Utah business leaders are hoping to build on that foundation through established trade missions.

In 1915, a Utah native developed the Pisco Sour, a drink that is now a popular national beverage in Peru. Now, the Governor's Office of Economic Development said establishing trade missions in Peru will give Utah companies more opportunities to grow through international trade.

"We've supported a lot of small and medium size companies who want to do business internationally," said Harvey J. Scott, Director, International Trade & Diplomacy in the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "Who might not have the right connections or the right level of expertise."

The trade mission left for Peru Aug. 18 with 60 participants from 38 companies representing agriculture, retail, banking, and security industries. Zions Bank sponsored the trip and will play a key role in the mission's activities along with World Trade Center Utah.

Scott said his office began exploring which Latin American countries seem to be the most compatible with Utah and Peru topped their list.

"We were looking specifically at the type of products Utah creates, makes, and produces and which countries in Latin America are actually buying these (types) products," Scott said. "And Peru was number one, number two, and number three on all of those lists we created."

The trade delegation from Utah met with Peruvian leaders and with Utah's Honorary Consul to Peru, David Utrilla, as part of the trade mission. Utrilla said Utah and Peru already share interests in mining and agriculture.

Peruvian business leaders were thinking California, New York, and now they are noticing that with a little bit of effort, they are getting amazing results with the state of Utah.

–David Utrilla, Utah's Honorary Consul of Peru

In 2012, Utah became Peru's largest export destination in the United States, according to the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Mining and medical devices were reported as strong product exports, while agricultural research, education and consulting services made up a few of the many service exports from Utah.

Utrilla said Peru and Utah have a great partnership and his country has a lot to offer Utahns.

"Peru has the fastest growing economy in the region," Utrilla said. "Fastest growing economy in the entire world. So they have amazing policies for trade."

Like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Governor's Office of Economic Development reports the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) that the United States government enacted in February 2009 has eliminated costly tariffs and provides a comprehensive security measure that covers environmental issues, intellectual property, and labor safeguards, and creates an ideal export destination for Utah's business community.

Utrilla said there are roughly 40,000 Peruvians living in Utah and "most of them just arrived in the last couple of years." Many are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and according to Utrilla, Peru is among the fastest growing LDS populations in the world.

Utrilla said all of their unique connections give Utah and Peru an advantage in the business world.

"They (Peruvian business leaders) were thinking California, New York, and now they are noticing that with a little bit of effort, they are getting amazing results with the state of Utah," Utrilla said.

Peru is also working to open doors for Utah universities to have a type of exchange program where Utahns and Peruvian educators and students can spend time abroad learning from each other.

Both Scott and Utrilla hope the trade mission to Peru will open doors to other countries in the region and give Utah businesses a boost in the world of international trade.

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