LIMA Dec 13 Peru's Congress unanimously
approved a free-trade pact with the European Union late on
Wednesday, meaning the Andean country now has trade agreements
with every major economy from China to Japan and the United
The 94-to-0 vote, which was widely expected, was held a day
after EU lawmakers gave free-trade accords with Colombia, Peru
and six Central American nations the necessary approvals to take
effect next year.
Peru, South America's fastest-growing economy, now has 16
trade pacts signed or in effect and President Ollanta Humala has
pushed exports of everything from minerals to specialty
agricultural products despite his leftist past.
Officials say the pact with the EU could add 0.7 percentage
point to economic growth over the long term in Peru, which is on
track for growth of 6.3 percent this year.
Peru, Chile and Mexico, the most open economies in Latin
America, are also participating in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific
Partnership, which would further liberalize trade among 11
Their aggressive free-trade programs contrast with countries
on the Atlantic such as Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, which
have been more reluctant to slash trade barriers.