Obama Hosts Peru’s Humala in Push for Pacific Trade Deal

President Barack Obama called Peru one of the most reliable partners of the U.S. in the Western Hemisphere and said a Pacific region trade pact being negotiated will enhance the economic relationship.

Growth for both countries depends on expanding into global markets and the Trans-Pacific Partnership will create new opportunities, Obama said following a meeting at the White House with Peru’s President Ollanta Humala.

The accord “offers the possibility of opening up markets throughout the the Pacific region with high standards and protections for labor and the environment,” Obama said.

The U.S., Peru and nine other nations are negotiating the trans-Pacific trade agreement. The proposal also played a leading role in Obama’s June 4 meeting at the White House with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

The 11 nations have a goal of reaching an agreement by the end of the year. The parties are working to resolve differences on intellectual property laws and labor and environmental standards, Pinera said during his visit.

Obama and Humala also discussed climate change and energy policy, education, technology and Peru’s government efforts toward social inclusion.

Humala said he wants to move ahead on exchange and scholarship programs to “provide young people more opportunities.”

U.S. Engagement

Vice President Joe Biden wrote in a June 5 essay in the Wall Street Journal newspaper that Obama’s meeting with Humala is part of “the most sustained period of U.S. engagement with the Americas in a long, long time.” Besides meeting with Pinera, Obama traveled last month to Mexico and Costa Rica and Biden recently visited Colombia, Trinidad and Brazil. In October, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to make a state visit to Washington.

Peru’s fast-growing economy is forecast to expand 6.2 percent this year, rising to 6.35 percent in 2014, according to the median of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Even so, that’s a slowdown from 7 percent in 2011.

Humala, 50, a career army officer, won the June 2011 presidential election after pledging respect for democracy and promising to spread the benefits of a decade of economic boom in a country rich in copper, silver, lead, zinc and oil.

Humala has pledged to accelerate infrastructure investment and cut red tape to spur growth amid a slump in copper exports. He held the first of a series of meetings with business leaders June 4 to discuss government measures to accelerate investment.

Humala’s job approval rating fell to 46 percent last month, down from 54 percent, partly because 55 percent of those surveyed said the economy is cooling, according to June 6 poll by Datum Internacional.

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