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Peru Garment Industry Considers Ditching the U.S Dollar

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In a rare act of defiance against the global hegemony of the U.S. dollar, the Peruvian apparel exporters are considering switching to its own currency, the sol, and the Argentinian peso, as the primary instrument of transaction.

The suggestion was originally issued by the Exporter’s Association (ADEX), which plans to present a paper on the topic on April 8, at the X Foro Textil Exportador conference. Pedro Gamio, chairman of ADEX’s Committee on Garments, said the substitution of the sol and the peso for the U.S. dollar might be a way to stimulate growth in the local textile and apparel industries, as well as strengthen regional ties.

While considered by many to be full of promise as a garment exporter Peru has experienced it share of troubles lately. In 2013, its textile and clothing exports plummeted 11 percent. Also, Peru signed a free trade agreement in April 2009 with China, which initially seemed like a natural fit for both signatories, but has turned out to be problematic. China desired easy access to sources of raw materials vital to its swelling economy, like copper and other base metals. Peru has one of the most abundant supplies of these materials, and is historically amenable to attracting foreign investment, always on the hunt for free trade agreements. But Peruvian authorities didn’t heed warnings that its textile industry would be insufficiently protected from competition from aggressive Chinese manufacturers and retailers. Now, a once flourishing apparel business, particularly in Lima’s famous garment district, is languishing as shoppers prefer lower priced, higher quality Chinese goods.

Peru might benefit from signing the the Pacific Alliance (PA)–a free trade agreement that includes Mexico, Colombia and Chile–finally concluded on February 10. The accord instantly creates a liberalized market that includes approximately 210 million people, larger than the population of Brazil. Between the four members of the Pacific Alliance 92 percent of all goods will be exchanged tariff free, with the aim to gradually include the remaining 8 percent over the next several years. According to Morgan Stanley forecasts, the new trade bloc is anticipated to grow about 4.25% this year. Overall, the group accounts for 36 percent of Latin America’s population, 35 percent of its GDP ($1.7 trillion) and more than half the trade for the entire region.

Also, the PA is specifically designed with the intent of strengthening economic ties with Asia. Ultimately, the PA plans to strike a free trade agreement with ASEAN, following up deals Chile and Peru have already brokered with China, Japan and Korea. Also, India still does not have any commercial arrangement with the PA at all though the four members did $7.7 billion worth of trade with India in 2011. Some experts estimate that a more predictable regulatory framework could double that volume over the next three years.

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