TBY talks to Aldo R. Defilippi, Executive Director & CEO of AmCham Peru, on Peru's economic performance and the role of the chamber in attracting investment.

Aldo R. Defilippi
Aldo R. Defilippi is a PhD candidate in economics at Boston University. He earned two MAs in economic policy and economic development. He studied economics at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, and attended the CEO’s Program at Kellogg’s Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, Chicago. Since 2002, he has been Managing Director of the American Chamber of Commerce of Peru (AmCham Peru). He is Chairman of the Peruvian Cancer Foundation (FPC) and the Association of Binational Chambers of Commerce of Peru (ACCB), as well as a member of the board of directors for several private companies.

Primary indicators show that Peru is an open and reliable country for doing business. How is AmCham Peru positioned to support and foster investment in the country?

Peru's development stems from certain factors. In the past we had a period of high inflation, strong devaluation, fiscal deficit, a dearth of foreign reserves, a balance of payment deficit, and unstable macroeconomic figures. It was difficult to predict what would happen. The country was characterized as a closed economy. In the 1970s the government owned almost every major productive activity, and there was plenty of protectionism, which led to high prices and a lack of quality for customers. In the 1990s the government began to change these conditions, placing a stronger emphasis on stabilizing the economy. The consequence of macroeconomic stability and the openness of the economy has been predictability, which has been important for trade and investment. AmCham Peru has 5,000 representatives from 580 companies from all over the world, 30% from the US. For the Chamber, all companies operating in Peru are Peruvian companies. Some have US capital, others Peruvian capital, but all of them share the same environment, the same stakeholders, the same problems and benefits, and the same overall situation. They share good practices and experiences at AmCham and we work with them toward the solution of some common issues. First of all we foster trade and investment, and we try to defend the interests of our members. In that sense, during the process of the negotiation of the first free trade agreement, we realized 18 missions to the US Congress and visited 351 Congressmen, Senators, and Representatives. On every trip, we took with us the general managers of US companies operating in Peru to visit their representatives and they let them know that the TLC was good for the US, for Peru, and for companies operating in Peru, whether American or Peruvian. The information that we brought with us was related to the import requirements or potential exports of their state, as well as details on their companies that were operating in Peru in order to demonstrate that both parties could benefit. Today, we undertake about nine to 10 missions to fairs in the US, helping SMEs because often they do not have the right knowledge of visas, customs, or language to set up appointments with potential buyers. In that respect, AmCham Peru is happy to help. AmCham Peru also receives missions from the US, covering all segments of the economy.

What are the main challenges that companies and investors face when they decide to do business in Peru?

The main challenge is to learn the country, the culture, and the availability of goods or services. Companies do not usually engage in business immediately when they go to a country. The first step is getting to know the potential partners. The second challenge is to improve the institutions and to reduce the bureaucratic procedures, help businesses, investors, producers, and consumers. We have to make things easier. Third, we still lack a great deal of infrastructure—Peru clearly needs more airports, ports, and roads. The country has developed greatly over the past 20 years, with an expanding middle class and reduced levels of poverty. However, as the country grows, it also needs better infrastructure, institutions, services, and qualified people. In summary, the country has developed, but its still faces a long process with many challenges. It still has to fight to reduce poverty even more, but with stability and openness of the economy, we will be able to attract investment and create more jobs. It is a difficult process, but the results will be rewarding. The country has to continue doing the right things. Sometimes, politicians forget that the best way to fight poverty is by attracting investment.