Peru's presidential election, held in June, resulted in a razor-thin victory for economist and former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. That finance experience should come in handy: Peru is has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
As Jules Suzdaltsev explains in this Seeker Daily briefing, Peru is a quickly developing nation that's moving very fast. The country's GDP has quadrupled since 1999 and the population has doubled in 40 years to more than 30 million people.
Peru's prosperity is largely due to demand for its major exports, which include premium commodities like copper, gold and petroleum gas. With a geographical footprint of 500,000 square miles -- about the size of Alaska -- Peru has a wealth of natural resources to draw from.
Peru's rapid growth in recent years has been attributed to its embrace of free trade principles and pro-business policies. In the last 10 years, Peru has entered into trade agreements with no less than 18 different countries, plus the EU and the European Free Trade Organization. The country has also signed onto the Trans Pacific Partnership.
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Clearly, Peru is open for business. Market-friendly policies have been credited with increasing wealth and reducing poverty rates, but Peru still has large rural and indigenous populations that are not getting much benefit from the economic upswing. The state has been criticized for promoting policies that shuttle much of the nation's wealth to the upper-class urban populations.
Along with its growing economic might, Peru is strengthening its military presence. With nearly 400 thousand defense personnel and a $2.5 billion annual defense budget, Peru is a powerful regional player. The nation also has a highly militarized internal police force with upwards of 120,000 personnel.
Peru has its share of problems, too. The country is famous for another major export -- cocaine -- and the illegal drug trade has long been a source of crime and corruption in Peru. Recent drops in commodity prices have also slowed the economy somewhat. Incoming president Kuczynski hopes to encourage recovery by bringing Peru's large informal economy into the taxation system.
-- Glenn McDonald
New York Times: Pedro Kuczynski Declares Victory Over Keiko Fujimori for Peru Presidency
Wall Street Journal: Peru Keeps Driving Right
Washington Post: Peru's Rise
CIA World Factbook: Peru