Both Utah and Peru are taking steps to take their trade relationship to the next level. The launch of Peru Utah Chamber of Commerce last week marks the latest development in the relationship, which has grossed $7.6 billion in the past decade and $2.5 billion in the past five years. Utah is also home to about 40,000 to 45,000 Peruvians.
The chamber appears to be only the beginning, however. Possible nonstop flights from Salt Lake to Lima, as well as an official Peruvian Consulate by the end of the year, are also in the works.
The chamber will help businesses in both Peru and Utah facilitate trade, said David Utrilla, Peru’s honorary consul in Utah. He said the idea for the Peru Utah Chamber was born after a similar chamber was started in Peru in May 2022 to help businesses there connect with Utah industries.
“I think this is just the beginning of what is going to be something beneficial to the state of Utah and, of course, the country of Peru,” Utrilla said.
The Salt Lake City International Airport is also exploring nonstop flights to Lima, Peru. The airport sent a letter to the Peruvian government in April to request a meeting about the possible route, which would be Salt Lake’s first direct flight to South America.
“The airport explores new air service on an ongoing basis to various destinations domestically and internationally,” airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said. “New international air service is not typically something that happens overnight. It typically takes a lot of time and forecasting to determine the viability of entering a new market.”
Still, even the possibility is exciting, said Utrilla.
“Just in tourism from both ways, it’s going to benefit both, I would say, drastically,” he said. “Not to mention the trade relations and the fact that there is a large church membership in Peru … so I think (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) also has a play here.”
A symbiotic relationship
Utrilla said a number of Utah businesses that are looking to Peru are doing so because of the uncertainty of U.S.-China relations.
“They’re looking at Peru as a place to diversify since Peru has similar productions as China,” he said. “Peru has a very large labor force that is hungry for work. Utah is struggling to find labor because unemployment is so low. So there is a good trade — they have something Utah doesn’t have and, of course, Utah has something Peru doesn’t have. This is the perfect relationship and it will be a win-win for both.”
Current trade ties between Utah and Peru stretch back over a decade. In fact, delegations from both places have sent trade delegations to strengthen the relationship.
“As one of Utah’s largest immigrant blocks, Peruvians are an active and entrepreneurial force in the state,” World Trade Center Utah chief of staff Stephen LeFevre said. “And each year, we host multiple inbound trade delegations from Peru who are eager to create business opportunities between our markets.”
So what exactly does Utah import from and export to Peru?
The biggest import by far is primary metal manufactures followed by machinery and food, according to data from World Trade Center Utah. Utrilla said Peru also hopes to start exporting manufactured products, such as furniture and clothing, to Utah. Meanwhile, machinery, chemicals and foods are also some of Utah’s biggest exports to Peru.
Trade declined on both ends during the pandemic. Imports went from $467 million in 2019 to $3.6 million in 2022. Meanwhile, exports decreased from $23.8 million to $20.4 in the same period.
A small part of a larger ecosystem
Utrilla stressed that the Peru Utah Chamber of Commerce will not be competing with either the Suazo Business Center, which helps Latino entrepreneurs, or the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Instead, the Peru Utah Chamber will help established businesses, whether or not they are Peruvian-owned, to connect with trade opportunities in Peru.
“The Peru Utah Chamber and the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will collaborate and connect businesses here in Utah to those in Peru and vice versa,” said Randal Serr, Hispanic Chamber interim board chairman. The two chambers formalized an agreement in December. “Connecting businesses between Utah and Peru is going to strengthen the economy of both in a very unique and meaningful way.”
Utrilla agreed, stating that the Peru Utah Chamber just wants “to be very focused on promoting the relations of Peru and Utah only.”
Source : KSL