Think "international trade for Utah companies," and it's likely that Peru isn't the first country that comes to mind.

But Peruvian Consul General Guido Loayza on Friday stressed that the economic bonds between Utah and Peru could grow even stronger, especially as a free-trade agreement between the United States and Peru is implemented.

"We are sure that with the signing of the free-trade agreement between the two countries, it will be very important for both sides to increase their trade for a mutual benefit, because we need foreign investment, we need our products in America, and we're sure that American citizens will be also very happy to have Peruvian products," Loayza told a group of about 18 people Friday at the Salt Lake Chamber offices.

U.S. Department of Commerce stats from 2005 show Utah exported $7.5 million in goods to Peru that year. But Loayza said the country's growing GDP — expected to balloon from 6 percent to 8 percent annually for the next dozen years — and other factors make it a prime location for international trade.

Among the Peruvian markets Loayza promoted for Utah investments are mining, energy, agriculture, fishing and "aquaculture," textiles, forestry, tourism, call centers, transportation infrastructure and telecommunications.

"Utah can be a perfect partner for Peru because of a lot of things Peru lacks — technology, machinery — products like that. If Utah can provide those to Peru, Peru has actually the money right now to purchase those things," said David Utrilla, the president of South Ogden-based U.S. Translation Co. and the facilitator of Loayza's visit.

Loayza suggested that Utah companies need to "take a first step — any first step" to enter the Peruvian market and to "find a niche where to go."

Lew Cramer, chief executive officer of the World Trade Center Utah, said Utah and Peru have a long-standing relationship, "but the economic powerhouse of Peru is coming; it's a link and a bridge we want to make even stronger."


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com